CI Fragrance Diaries: Golden Neroli
Neroli is a common component in perfumery which is said to have calming and uplifting effects on those who smell it. This top to middle note is fresh, sweet and reminiscent of honey – the perfect recipe for happiness.
The golden oil, named for the Princess of Nerola who popularized its use in 17th century Italy, is one of three essential oils extracted from the bitter orange tree, Citrus Aurantium, or Seville Orange. The origin of the bitter orange tree seems to be from the eastern regions of India, where the Arabs found it around 922AD and exported it to Arabia. From there it traveled to Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, and was introduced in the 11th century to North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia and Spain. The word “orange” comes from the Arabic “naranch” (and this from the Persian “narang”). While the fruit is too bitter to eat, the blossoms produce the coveted Neroli oil.
Neroli is extracted from the bitter orange flowers specifically by the steam distillation process, whereas the same flowers are treated in an entirely different way to create orange blossom oil which is a more sweet, warming and heady jasmine-like note. The third oil taken from Citrus Aurantium is known as Petitgrain, which is extracted from the leaves and green twigs by steam distillation. Petitgrain is a fresh, green floral note with a hint of herbaceous.
Orange trees begin to flower in early winter, and for all their blossoming 99% of flowers fall from the tree and only the remaining 1% will actually become oranges. The flowering orange tree is an explosion of joy as branches are thickly knotted with deep green citrus leaves and hundreds of white flowers.
Different flowering plants give off their most potent aroma at different times during the day due to their differing bio-rhythms. Ylang-ylang is a nocturnal flower, releasing its perfume just before the dawn but neroli is intrinsically connected to the midday sun in early winter, because it is at midday that these blossoms release their fragrance. The orange blossoms are handpicked for distillation during the hottest time of the day when oil production is at its maximum.
Some have called neroli “distilled sunlight” as it has similar anti-depressant qualities. In aromatherapy, neroli is very beneficial for the heart – not in the cardiovascular sense but more in the sense of one’s emotional state. This uplifting “distilled sunshine” is able to bring clarity to the mind and brightness to the spirit. A few drops in the bath will calm your nerves and put you in high spirits.
A luxurious neroli cologne for the connoisseur is Neroli Portofino from Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection. This naturally refreshing, clean fragrance is inspired by the small town of the same name on the Italian Riviera, famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity visitors.
In cosmetics neroli is also good for the treatment of broken capillaries as well as an excellent product for dry and sensitive skin. Our Constantia Heights soap and lotion have a generous dose of neroli oil to keep your skin feeling fresh and happy.
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