When rose is used in a perfume, be it in a dedicated rose perfume or another perfume to which it lends support, a synthetic rose is constructed and manipulated to create the particular nuances that contribute to the roses’ final character. In classical perfumery, a rose construction occurs around three focal points: phenylethyl alcohol (which smells like roses) and its esters (which contribute a honey component), citronellol and its esters, and geraniol and its esters. In addition to these three basic aromas, other compounds are used to enhance the basic rose. The damascones and beta damescenone contribute a sweet and subtle fruitiness. Rose oxide is often included for a subtle floral addition.
Green notes are very common in flowers and roses are no exception. The most classic green compound for roses is phenylacetaldehyde, but other compounds such as hexanol (and its esters), nonadienal, isocyclocitral, and violet leaf absolute can all be used. Perhaps surprisingly, roses contain aldehydes. The classic aldehyde used to contribute to the top note, is aldehyde C-11 undecylenic, but other aldehydes such as C-8, C-9, and muguet aldehyde are also used.
Other flowers can be used to support rose. The most common is muguet (lily of the valley) which is added in the form of hydroxycitronellal or Lyral. It is used often in perfumery to lend floral freshness. Other ingredients that are sometimes used are blue chamomile, Roman chamomile, palmarosa, carrot seed, guaiacwood, sandalwood, orris, and mimosa absolute.
Roses can be made spicy with eugenol, cloves, cinnamon, or pepper. Adding patchouli can turn red roses into white.
Last, rose absolute and rose otto should be added to fill in the spaces in the aroma and lend their natural complexity. In the old days (the twenties), a 10 percent addition of naturals was considered normal, but nowadays, in all but the most luxurious perfumes, natural rose is only added in minute percentages.