perfumer creating scents

It's a world that's been shrouded in mystery and romance for hundreds of years - how can one bottle of perfume cost £20, another £150? Is it the perfumer, ingredients or packaging that justifies the price? Surely it's just down to whether you like the smell or not?

Over the coming weeks we'll be showing you behind-the-scenes and taking a deep dive into the world of fragrance, because what we all want to know it: if you're buying a product for its scent - to fragrance your home or yourself - "how can I tell if its worth it? And what exactly am I paying for?"

The 'Nose'

Behind every great fragrance, a perfumer may have worked up to three years to perfect it. As unashamed fragrance-geeks, we see them as bridging the worlds of Science and Art. So, what makes a perfumer's role so important? The ability to imagine a scent that doesn't exist and know which ingredients will create it... that talent seems magical to us.

The Ingredients

The finest fragrances use the best ingredients available, some of which are more expensive than gold. Iris/orris rhizomes take up to six years to mature and can cost 100,000 euros per kilo; and it takes 20,000 hand-picked roses to produce just 10ml of fragrant oil. But wow, they smell amazing.

Synthetic or 'man-made' ingredients can also be costly. They're either derived from nature or offer a whole new palette of perfume notes not available in the natural world. A good quality fragrance is often a mixture of both natural and synthetic ingredients, beautifully blended by a master perfumer.

Quality Control

A good quality fragrance goes through rigorous tests before it hits the shelf. When making a scented candle or diffuser, we'll measure the ingredients' "Specific Gravity" as well as run them through a Refractometer to make sure the finished scent matches the master sample and has superb longevity. For safety, we perform Flash Point tests, to make sure the fragrance doesn't combust when exposed to a flame. The maths might be complicated, but the reason behind the tests is simple: a good quality fragrance is perfectly balanced to perform safely and consistently.

quality control to ensure good fragrance

The Sniff Test

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference - if you like the fragrance, who's to say it's not good? We think a good quality fragrance does more than simply smell 'nice': it immediately propels you on a journey. When we smell something, thousands of synapses are firing between the nerve cells in our brains, connecting us to memories we've stored away.

You'd be amazed, subconsciously we can easily tell the difference between memories of that glorious lavender field in France and a picnic amongst lavender in the English countryside. A good quality fragrance has the detail our brains need for this.

When our founder Carol Symons watched people smell the first candles she'd made, she recalls spending " long thinking about their smells, wondering where the scent was taking them..." You can read about how Carol began, here; but we think that's the best test of all: fragrances that make you close your eyes and imagine, the instant you smell them...