A balmy summer evening carries the sweet and exotic scent of jasmine through the breeze. These highly fragrant flowers blossom at night, allowing the harvest of the delicate blooms to take place when their scent is most potent. Often described as intoxicating, deep, sensuous, and rich, this white floral is cultivated for its beauty and unmistakable fragrance.
Globally, the flower is celebrated in many countries as their national flower and utilized as decoration for ceremonies and rituals as an important part of cultural heritage. Touted as a natural sedative, the scent of jasmine is calming, soothing, and tranquil. Originally derived from the warm climates of Asia, there are hundreds of sub-species of jasmine while only 2 species – Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum officinale are used for the majority of fragrance production.
This highly regarded ingredient is deemed to make or break a fragrance, hence the phrase “no perfume without jasmine”. With over 100 chemical compounds found in the flower, each major species (Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum officinale) has uniquely varying scent traits, determined by the region and even technique of the harvest.
Jasmine from Egypt has more floral top notes while jasmine from Italy has fruiter tones. Jasmine from India naturally contains higher concentrations of indole – a compound which has a deep, animalic, musky scent. If not careful when picking the blossoms, bruising of the petals creates a higher amount of indole thus altering the fragrance of the prized oil. While the largest producers of jasmine include Egypt, Tunisia and India, the Mul family gardens in Grasse produce the majority of the jasmine in the region through an exclusive partnership for Chanel, supplying the essential Jasminum grandiflorum for renowned perfumed Chanel No 5.
As for capturing the jasmine essential oil, popular methods like cold-pressed extraction and steam distillation are too invasive. Jasmine is processed through a method of solvent extraction, producing a highly fragrant and concentrated oil. One precious kilogram of the fragrance requires over 7 million hand-picked flowers. Although the harvest and fragrance extraction is both a delicate and tedious process, jasmine is an essential ingredient in many loved fragrances, adored universally by men and women.