In The Studio – Emerald

  • By Jean Peters-Do
Emerald eau de parfum, natural perfume

From Seed Crystal to Fruition

Emeralds are crystalline gems that grew from seed crystals in beryl millions of years ago. Emerald Perfume is a gem of a perfume that grew from a seed crystal of a surprise friendship.

The story of Emerald starts March 11, 2022 when a fellow Etsy seller reached out to me at my Etsy store, inquiring about a perfume. He bought it and soon wrote back to me, politely telling me it was not at all what he expected. And it gave him a headache. Oof. Surprisingly, this was the beginning of a great friendship! As we worked through the issue around his purchase, he and his wife sampled most of my 2020-21 perfumes offering valuable feedback. His wife enjoyed one or two very much, but he was still searching for his signature perfume.


Over the course of a few weeks Tyler asked so many good questions about perfume making that I agreed to try to make a bespoke perfume for him. His signature perfume would be a wearable “organic Virginia tobacco, fresh rolled, with the smell of burnt tobacco on the fingers.” After a half dozen or so trials, I made a blend that I truly love (being a former smoker, I too have rich odor memories of cigarettes) and he was satisfied in principle. Heavy with tobacco and a light touch of accessory notes like berry and vanilla, the smoke was accomplished perfectly with choya ral.


Working together on the bespoke was a real benefit for me because he became my muse. We talked about perfume ideas, and I was happy to talk about materials and general principles of blending. Once when we were discussing ideas, he seemed to be reaching deep to describe what he could sense in his mind’s eye: a green scent, with fresh cut grass, cucumber, and sandalwood. I remember thinking, “Oh sure, that’s possible. Not.” But I jotted it down in my journal and held the idea like a seed in the back of my mind because it was intriguing.


Call it synchronicity or a stroke of good luck, a few weeks later I learned that Hermitage Oils in Italy was going to start shipping to the US. Here was my chance to purchase a wide variety of materials including natural isolates from a reliable source, expanding my perfume organ and palette of aromas dramatically. You bet I bought leaf alcohol and cucumber! I also acquired a bit of Mysore sandalwood, the sandalwood of my youth – very expensive and hard to get.

green seed crystal in grassy field

Nurturing the Seed

Getting new perfume materials is so exciting! The order from Italy was mostly materials that I had wanted to sample for a long time, plus some materials to compare against my inventory. Though it’s very tempting to start mixing right away, I learned the expensive lessons of wasted materials by not having a method and exercising discipline. Better to spend time to gradually get familiar with a material in various conditions and settings than to pour money down the drain. For the next six months I enjoyed their novelty and studied them a little at a time.

There are many things to learn about a material, both factual and as highly subjective perceptions; the variables that influence the quality of odor engrams forming in the mind of a natural perfumer are both internal and environmental. For instance, smelling a single rose oil sample on a cool, dewy morning reveals certain facets of it, but it might smell different in the warm, dry afternoon. Smelling it in the bottle, or on a scent strip, or on my skin gives different impressions, sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious. In addition, the qualities of the oil evolve. And the nose can be fickle. Sniffles from allergies or very low humidity from heaters or air conditioning will impact how well the nose works. It takes time and different contexts and conditions to build familiarity.

Continuing the metaphor of the seed… if studying raw materials is tilling the field, the best fertilizer for nurturing the creative process is to study with other perfumers. In September I completed my fourth Slow Scent® Natural Perfume Class with Mandy Aftel. For the first time, I started class with a bit of confidence and felt prepared; it took ten years to develop good habits and internalize her technique. Even though I couldn’t use my new materials for class, that green grass/cucumber/sandalwood seed from the summer was on my mind for each lesson.

I focused on improving my editing skills and techniques for revising a formula both in class and the weeks after, and that really paid off when I sat down to work on Emerald in November. With a clear direction to go, the formula worked itself out without much struggle. When I sent a sample to Tyler it was a big hit – it was certified complete.

Orange blossoms, leaves, and fruit

Branches, Leaves, and Blossoms

Emerald is in some regards a soliflore scent with its conspicuous green grass opening and green notes extending down to the base. It only has eight ingredients, a modest number compared to my other perfumes averaging about twelve.

Elegant sandalwood carries Emerald. It is a favorite of perfumers for too many reasons to list; it is a heavyweight in every regard. Historical records more than 4,000 years old show it’s been used in incense and perfumery for at least that long, but it was probably in use for many more thousands. The most exquisite oil is distilled from inoculated trees that are harvested after growing for 60 – 80 years in Mysore India. Well-managed forests in other tropical regions are growing very good sandalwood. I use a blend of my favorite oils for Amaravati perfumes.

Finding the right heart notes for Emerald was dictated by the color of the ingredients– I wanted a green material to provide tint. Colors of natural materials matters when designing a natural perfume, because you don’t want it to end up muddy; in contrast, synthetics are generally colorless and just about any ingredient can be selected. Orange leaf is a deep, dark green and the scent profile works nicely with the leaf alcohol and cucumber, but by itself is too woody and “dry.” To solve that, lisylang is a sheer ylang ylang note that floralizes orange leaf in the middle registers. Also, orange leaf is like a thicker, jammy petitgrain, so I selected the green citrus of petitgrain Bergamotier to carry that note from the top into the middle registers. Together these add hints of neroli to the drydown.

Is there a way to extract essential oil from green grass? No, but the odor chemical called leaf alcohol (Cis-3-hexenol) is easily extracted from peppermint oil and it smells obviously green and grassy. It is found in many plants including carnation, grape, kiwi, corn, tomato, and tea. Pairing it with crisp, clean cucumber extract brings out some of the fruitiness of the leaf alcohol. In my next post I’ll talk about leaf alcohol and natural isolates.

These are the main ingredients, with a little “secret sauce” added to balance the blend. The result is cologne-fresh out of the bottle with warm sandalwood to the end. 

Suggestions in the Shop


My collection is designed to inspire you, spark your creativity, and offer you choices of gift items based on themes of color and other associations.


To enjoy your Emerald perfume on fresh, naturally-scented skin I recommend our Forest Tonic or Shea Honey Oat all-natural bar soaps.


For your scented rituals, we offer this 4th Chakra carved soapstone oil diffuser. The heart chakra is green and is associated with peace and compassion, representing balance and interconnectedness. Try a few drops of our Crisp Green diffuser oil in distilled water in the diffuser bowl as a meditation aid.


We also have silk scarves and green sari silk drawstring bags. Our sandalwood beads are warm and sweet – easy to carry and enjoy wherever you go.


If you love green stones I invite you to visit Tyler’s shop, GratefulJade. He carves gorgeous jadeite (Guatemalan jade). I wear a pendant every day that I find very soothing, and my palm stone is like butter to the touch.


Which do you like better: the clear, bold color of emeralds or the creamy smooth colors of jade and jadeite? What odors make you think of the color green? Do you use sandalwood for aromatherapy or perfume? How do you slow down, find balance, and get a peaceful feeling? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Grateful Jade palm stone

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