Roses have been used for their fragrance since the first bloom; however, the development of distilling rose essence is somewhat newer in comparison. It is theorized that essential oils were first used anywhere from 3500 BC to the 8th century. Since then, the distillation process has had some developments, but the process essentially remains the same. In May and June, thousands of roses are gathered in the early morning and brought to local village distilleries. These roses are boiled for hours, and the vapors are released, gathered, and condensed to produce the coveted rose oil.
Various types of roses had been used for distillation until the Damask Rose was made the standard. Rosa damascena is believed to be a hybrid of the Rosa gallica and the Rosa phoenicia species. As with any product, the higher quality an ingredient is the better the end result will be. Since Bellini’s carries a variety of products soaked with the scent of roses, we wanted to dedicate some time to writing about a few roses, and the places they are from. Keep reading to learn about the roses we feature.
Where do the world's roses come from? Bulgaria and Turkey are the main two countries that produce roses for fragrance and oils, and Morocco is an up-and-coming third. Each country focuses on harvesting and producing their roses and rose oils in different ways. This, in addition to the soil, weather, and other environmental factors, all contribute to the varying aromas of the Damask Rose.
After planting a rose twig in a rose garden, it takes almost 3 years for a rose plant to gain maturity. In general, a rose garden remains productive for as long as 25 to 30 years. A few years after planting, the roses will reach maturity and bloom. Roses around the world (in the Northern Hemisphere) bloom in May through June, and from October to November in the Southern Hemisphere. Each rose is plucked in the early morning, before the sun dries up the leaves, for you to enjoy at your whim.
Roses have long been associated with healing and medicinal properties, so it is no wonder that Phytomer has released a rose-based skincare product: Rosee Soin. The Rosee Soin is a light, multi-functional oil that targets dehydrated and irritated skin. It leaves your skin clearer, firmer, and more radiant, and leaves a faint lingering aroma of fresh rose petals.
If you’re interested in smelling some Australian roses, be sure to try Jurlique’s line of rose-scented products. The company earned their brand name Jurlique via working with botanists to develop a brand new rose - the Jurlique Rose of Australia. You’re sure to have never smelled a rose like this one before. One of our favorite lip balms is the Jurlique Love Rose Balm, which quickly sinks into your lips without using any mineral oils.
The Moroccan Rose
Morocco has a budding rose industry, and is the third largest producer of rose oil in the world. To increase their market share, Morocco began hosting a Rose Festival every year after the harvesting season. One of the reasons for their abundance of roses is due to their one-of-a-kind climate, which sits between the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains, resulting in a rose oasis. The Moroccan Valley of Roses is located in the foothills of the Dades Valley, and is free of pesticides and insecticides. There are miles of roses lining the city, leaving a trail of rose fragrance throughout the city for weeks. Get the same feeling at your house with Coqui Coqui's fresh rose candle, which will fill the area with the scent of fresh rose stems and petals. This candle is not overpowering of rose at all, and truly smells like a field of roses.
Have you ever smelled Damask Rose? If it's your favorite, we have a pure Damask Rose candle from Carriere Freres. The natural vegetable wax gives a clean burn, so there is no smokey residue. Carriere Freres candles emit a soft glow the same color as the frosted glass container, resulting in a soothing visual and delicately developing fragrance. We also carry a variety of rose based candles from them, which can include either mint, benzoin, or amber to pull the rose into different scent families. If you prefer an uplifting scent, try La Rose Aime La Menthe. For a piquant wood-based rose, check out Benjoin du Laos & Rose de Damas.
In addition to the Rosa damascena, the area is also known for growing Rosa centifolia, also known as the cabbage rose. Centifolia roses are also used in perfumery, such as in Olfactive Studio’s Close Up. Centifolia roses are often described as having a lighter rose scent with a hint of honey. This is not surprising since the chemical composition of rose oil (citronellol) can lean sweet.
Bulgarian Rosa damascena is only cultivated and harvested in the Rose Valley, Bulgaria. Moroccan Rosa damascena and Bulgarian Rose damascena are not the same. Their properties are very different, and cannot be compared.
The Bulgarian Rose
The Balkan mountains in Bulgaria are also known as the Valley of the Roses (similar to Morocco's Atlas Mountain). The predominant rose is the Damask Rose, which sits in rich cinnamon-forest soil that contributes to its aroma. The valley is surrounded by mountains which protect it from harsh winds. The immense rainfall in May is crucial to the successful growth of the Damask Rose.
Due to their proximity, there are many similarities between Bulgarian and Turkish rose oil farms. For example, the cauldrons and materials used are often made of copper (or galvanized steel in the modern era). Because of the unique climatic conditions and geologic settings in the area, Bulgarian rose oil and other rose products are considered of premium quality with a very rich, multilayered fragrance. If you're looking for a floral-yet-woody fragrance, Initio's Psychedelic Love is a balanced blend of bergamot, Bulgarian rose, and myrrh. For a more traditional rose scent, check out Parfums de Marly's Cassili.
The Turkish Rose
Parfums de Marly believes that the most precious rose in perfumery is the Turkish rose essence, which is grown in the Isparta region of Turkey. This is not just an opinion, since over half of worldwide rose oil production stems from Turkey. One of the reasons for this is that there is only one valley in Turkey that gives them this beautiful smelling rose. The area is named the ‘Rose Triangle’ due to the mountains which protect terraced rose production from excessively hot or cold winds, resulting in the perfect altitudes for this rose. In addition to their ideal climate, there are numerous villages in the Rose Triangle that sit in foothills, suggesting that the area is rich enough in resources to maintain a variety of independent distilleries. Because of this, Isparta, Turkey is also the top producer of rose flowers and rose oil throughout Turkey. You can smell this prized flower in their range of Delina fragrances: Delina, Delina Exclusif, and Delina la Rosee. If you're searching for a pure, simple rose fragrance, check out Olfactive Studio's Rose Shot.
Turkish roses produce a typical fragrance that is spiced, honeyed and slightly green. Approximately three tons – one million roses – are necessary to produce one kilogram of this essential oil. If you are interested in finding a one-of-a-kind rose fragrance, you definitely need to smell Initio's Atomic Rose, which features Turkish and Bulgarian roses, resulting in the most seductive rose scent ever.
"The rose is the only way to work in the valley." - Najad Hassad.
There are many beautiful things about roses, but there is also a topic we need to cover – supporting farmers year round. The harvesting season is when most farmers make the majority of their money - but that's not enough to live on. As with most monetary examples, getting a lump sum is often less beneficial long-term than getting a stable income. Calling back to our earlier fact, remember that it generally takes 3.5 to 5 tons of rose petals to yield 1 kg of rose oil.
While many of these villages also focus on growing figs, nuts, and other plants, we would like to see the standard of living improve year-round for farmers. Some countries are already making strides to improve this, such as with Morocco’s Green Plan which focused on expanding and improving agricultural production, and increasing the sale of farmers’ goods.
Parfums de Marly is also addressing this quality of life issue by utilizing each aspect of farmers’ harvests. This way, Parfums de Marly is able to pay farmers throughout the year. For example, petitgrain is the distillation of leaves and twigs from an orange tree. Practices like this can reward both perfumers and farmers alike by expanding resources available to both parties. Farmers are able to grow and produce in-demand products year round, and perfumers can bring a new scent profile into their mix.
“In the progression from plant to perfume, the aim is not to recreate something found in nature, but to create something new -- an abstract idea.” -Red Flower
This is just one example of the practices that should be standard, and is one of the reasons why Bellini's is so particular with the brands we bring on. We want to support brands that want to make lasting differences in the world. We also want to thank our customers, because with you we make the stand to demand better.
Alaoui, M., 2019. Investing in aromatic roses in Morocco. [online] Available at <https://thearabweekly.com/investing-aromatic-roses-morocco> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
Can Baser PhD, K., Altintas PhD, A. and Kürkçüoglu PhD, M., 2022. Turkish Rose: A Review of the History, Ethnobotany, and Modern Uses of Rose Petals, Rose Oil, Rose Water, and Other Rose Products - American Botanical Council. [online] Herbalgram.org. Available at: <https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/96/table-of-contents/herbalgram-96-turkish-rose-history-ethnobotany-modern-uses/> [Accessed 1 June 2022].
France 24. 2021. Hard but sweet-smelling slog in Morocco's Valley of the Roses - France 24. [online] Available at: <https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210504-hard-but-sweet-smelling-slog-in-morocco-s-valley-of-the-roses> [Accessed 1 June 2022].