precious oils


This concept of “precious” oils has me questioning how we value some raw materials over others.

It got me thinking, why is Oud or Ambergris considered more “precious” than Lavender essential oil, a material that is so very versatile in its application? Or Lavandin or Clary Sage Absolute or any of the other hundreds of perfume ingredients at our disposal that don’t come with the same price tag, mystique or cachet as Ambergris or Oud (Agarwood) oil.

Is it the availability, or lack thereof?  The length of time it has been deteriorating? What then?

Shouldn’t a material’s preciousness be based on its usefulness, its multi-functionality, its ability to transport you to places and moments of the past and future?  If these are what make a perfume raw material “precious” then ALL essential oils, concretes, and absolutes are precious and what it ultimately comes down to then is the artful skill of the perfumer and how he or she uses the materials.

It’s easy for a string of pearls or diamonds to make one appear more beautiful, much harder though for the wearer to be exalted by a string of Tourmaline or Onyx; here for the beauty to come forth what’s needed is greater interaction between the wearer’s charisma and the stone.

The same can be said for perfume materials and the perfumer’s ability to transform humble raw materials into distinguished, fragrant works of art.

Today, whatever you’re working on, make it great!


2 thoughts on “precious oils

  1. hi Maxine, couple of days later. I couldn’t agree more as to the preciousness of an ingredient. of course in the world of people, the more expensive/hard to get something is, the more business it represents – the more ‘conspicuous leisure’ – it’s like the amber beads in the stone age, by wearing them you showed how many people were well provided for, so they could afford to sit around and make beads..
    another factor is: the extent to which a substance has been ‘interfered with’.. technological prowess, also expensive, makes for desirablity. I’m thinking on my feet here, what strikes me is that who ‘we’ is in a statement, is also a point. you and i go into extasies over something based purely on our own personal relationship with a fragrance, it’s an emotion. and that’s hard to communicate, especially to more than one other person. I suppose, where you find yourself – in the ‘universal odourscape’ – depends on many things, and particularly on ‘what you need’. a sentence by Pina Bausch keeps coming back to me all the time: wonach sehnen wir uns – what is our heart’s desire… i saw a documentary on tv where that phrase made her and her crew work to find new forms of dance. the more i live with that phrase, the more i get out of it.. it makes me look for what is expression, what is real, what is ultimately of myself in what i do. you don not find it out there among all the common denominators…
    but it doesn’t help to be too singlemindedly individualistic, either. which i was for many years. the best moments are when someone smells a fragrance and they love it – because it is what they need.
    i loved the paragraph on knowledge as a spiral – in odourscapes.
    keep up the good work, you remind me each time of what i love!


    1. Hi Eline, just got back from a two week holiday to the country of perfume and getting back in the swing of things feels like I’m dragging my feet. Ha! You shed some light on the ‘precious’ factor being also about how much we fiddle with the raw material. I also agree with you that where our hearts live will be the basis of what we produce. Really glad to hear the words inspire you to continue to explore this wonderful art! Thank you for the connection 🙂 it’s always a pleasure.


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