HOMEPAGE DOCUMENTATION IS IT AMBERGRIS SELLING AMBER

HOW TO IDENTIFY AMBER GRIS

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Ambergris Ambre gris Ambregris Ambra
Ambar gris ambergris amber gris greyamber

1. IDENTIFYING AMBERGRIS
Ambergris has a very specific odour and this is the best and quickest way to identify it. The odour makes it possible not only to determine the age and quality but also to predict the evolution of the piece over time. To some people the odour is nauseous while to others it is attractive and even sensuous. There is certainly an animalic component, reminiscent of farm animals, or even a faecal note, perhaps like that of a well rotted manure heap. There can also be a strong marine note like the smell of seaweed on a beach. Once you have smelt it you will not forget it.
Over time, the odour becomes softer and more "perfumistic" whilst still preserving its marked animal characteristics. Total "refinement" takes 10 to 20 years or more but the animalic notes will always be retained.

2. APPEARANCE
Amber is found in many forms: large blocks, balls or egg shapes [sometimes called "kidneys"], broken layers or strata, small jagged pieces, very hard rolls.
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Whole blocks are usually of a roughly ovoid form with the surface being quite irregular and a definite "pointiness" at one end. Blocks are often composed of individual "kidneys" held together with more ambregris which acts rather like a cement. This material is often seen as definite layers which can easily crack and break away if the piece is subject to a sudden blow or shock. Sometimes such breaking will release the "kidneys" from the block.
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The individual "kidneys" look like river stones and vary from the size of a golf ball up to 4 or 5 kilo "rocks". They generally have a finer and firmer structure than the larger blocks and are more resistant to weather and wave action.

3. CHANGE IN APPEARANCE OVER TIME
The appearance of ambre gris evolves with time. The consistency of fresh material is generally soft, compressible and easily crumbled like wet garden soil or clay. Old ambre gris is dry, hard and will fracture like dry clay. It takes many years for a block to dry. After the initial [incomplete] drying the material loses much of its softness and pliability and is said to be "humid".
Amber grey looses 30 - 40 % of its weight in the first few months then the rate decreases and less and less is lost as time goes by. Very dry material can have lost as much as 60 to 70 % of its original weight. The drying time and the weight loss may vary enormously according to quality. Ambergrey is subject to oxidation and degenerates or erodes with time. Some pieces have been known to disappear almost completely.

4. COLOUR
The colour of ambergris varies from black, through dark brown, through light brown to yellow/gold or even grey. The colour tends to lighten with time.

5. TEXTURE

The texture is granulous. The "kidneys" have a tighter and finer texture than the layers or strata.

6. THE EFFECTS OF HEAT
The sun's rays can melt the surface of ambergris forming a layer similar to tar or honey which can cover the area exposed to the sun. When melted, the colour of ambergris darkens. Its colour and transparency can be indicators of quality. [Ambergris melts at 65 -70 degrees. (Centigrade]

7. SQUID BEAKS
If squid beaks are found in the material it is a good indication that you have ambre gris. It is rare that no beaks are found and it is generally believed that ambergris is formed by the whale to protect its stomach and gut from irritation by these rather sharp objects. The point should be made, however, that the presence of squid beaks does not represent a quality standard.
Dispersed irregularly, we generally find more beaks in the strata than in the "kidneys".
Wearing of the surface often reveals squid beaks which are easily identifiable by their shape, their black/brown colour and their smooth and shiny texture.

8. FINDING LARGE PIECES IN THE SEA
Whole blocks of amber are often found in the open sea. Since the blocks have roughly the same density as sea water, they are sometimes almost completely immersed and can only be seen intermittently. Frequently, one can locate the blocks without actually seeing them due to their being surrounded by a calm area of sea similar to that which might be produced by a spillage of oil. This zone is also identifiable by the odour of amber and whale excrement.

In Herman Melville's novel "Moby Dick", Captain Ahab had a reputation of being able to locate very large sperm whales almost intuitively. He was probably using a keen sense of smell because only the large male whales seem to produce amber.

9. COLLECTING ON THE BEACH
It is possible to find ambergrey anywhere on the sea shore, but especially on beaches exposed to wind. Ambergrey can be gently deposited on the sand or thrown onto reefs and rocks where it can be broken up and taken out to sea again. Tumbled and churned by tide and waves, it is finally landed on the shore by a strong sea or a high tide. It is then that we find pieces, from a few grams to twenty kilos or more that can vary widely in size shape and colour, battered by waves, worn by sand melted by sun or chewed by crabs!

10. STORING AMBERGRIS
Do not store ambergris in plastic or in any kind of hermetically sealed container. The material is best preserved suspended in a cotton cloth.
Be careful of animals......especially dogs and pigs!

11. THE OLFACTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF AMBER GRIS
Each piece of ambre gris is unique. It is also an evolutionary material and as time passes it develops a true perfume of its own. It is not only an odour ingredient that adds depth and roundness to a perfume composition; it also acts as a "fixative" and an "exalter". It helps to bring the complex range of olfactive notes together and to diffuse the final creation into the ambience.

12. CHOOSING AMBERGREY
There are surprisingly few perfumers around the world and only those concerned with the creation of the highest quality couturier fragrances use ambergris, so the market is extremely limited. Perfumers buy through brokers with whom a trusting relationship has been built over many years. A broker's reputation takes time to establish and is jealously guarded.
In fact, perfumers buy ambergris only if the odour of the piece is appropriate for their needs. In choosing ambergris a perfumer must not only be able to assess the current quality but through experience and intuition, anticipate the evolution of the odour before infusion [see item 13]

13. INFUSIONS OF AMBRE GRIS
The odour of amber evolves and develops over time. To stop that development at the desired odour "profile", perfumers make infusions of amber in alcohol. Infusions of the same piece of ambergris made at different times can produce quite different results. Leading perfumers develop the great skill of being able to blend infusions to produce a consistency in odour "profile".

14. THE VALUE OF AMBERGRIS
Ambergris is no different from any other highly prized commodity. Because quality is so variable, the influences on its value can be best compared with those governing the price of diamonds.probably

The Author of this text is Mr Michel DAUPHIN

Ambergris expertise & buying worldwide I www.ambergris.fr & www.ambre-gris.com I Copyright 2005-2011