Some perfume lovers still regard synthetics with suspicion, but did you know that synthetics have been used since the birth of modern perfumery?
Many of your favourite flowers have a scent that cannot be extracted and so must be created synthetically. For example, think of the extravagant beauty of honeysuckle, violets, lily of the valley, cherry blossom, wild rose and wisteria. Just imagining them fills your mind with bright colours! However, it is nigh on impossible for a perfumer to extract their natural aromas and it therefore has to be replicated in a lab. Doesn’t sound very poetic, does it? But the sublime results speak for themselves.
How is it done?
An “ Isolat” is a molecule which is extracted from essential oils and replicated to create just a fraction of a scent. They come from nature, but need a lot of scientific help to get noticed. Synthetic molecules are blended with naturals so that the scent of the flower can be produced.
In 1830 a violet molecule was created (alpha-isomethyl-ionone) in the Russian perfumery industry. You can find this in Le Jardin Retrouvé’s own Cuir de Russie .
In 1874, the first synthetic aldehyde was made for the first time and the reasons were purely economic. The Guerlain family tasked a group of German chemist with creating a vanillin molecule, which was subsequently used in Vol de Nuit. In fact vanillin is produced from a combination of tree bark and by-products from the paper industry. You would never guess this from the scent of such a beautiful classic as Vol de Nuit
These are just two examples that stretch back to the very earliest beginnings of fragrance and as you can see, synthetics are created with a great deal of care and expertise to do the job when nature can’t.