JAR Perfume – Strange and Beautiful

While in New York City, we went to Bergdorf and sniffed the JAR Perfume line. If you´re in New York, go. You´ll never smell anything like them. JAR is the initials of Joel Arthur Rosenthal, the luxury jeweler, who is apparently the actual nose behind these scents (rather than a hired gun.) Patty and I did a joint post on this, with Patty’s notes dropped in where she wanted to comment — and where we differed in feeling.
The presentation is this: you´re seated at a table in a small, dimly lit room in the beauty basement (the old Guerlain niche, redecorated). The JAR Perfume SA (the charming Franz, if you´re lucky, who is gorgeous, charming and did we mention gorgeous?) presents each of the seven fragrances to you, one at a time, thusly  … he lifts the lid on a glass bowl containing aJAR perfume chamois soaked in the scent, and holds it for you to sniff as long as you want to. You are not told the name of the JAR Perfume ahead of time, and you are never told the notes. You are to draw your own conclusions, free of the burden of others´ impressions. You do not touch the JAR Perfume bottle, although they are there, lined up down the right-hand side of the desk. After you have sniffed all the scents (Franz tells you the name after you´ve smelled it), you can elect to have him apply one or more  or all of them, I guess. It´s up to you. Does this sound irritating? It wasn´t, actually. It´s just The Way It Is, and you might as well run with it.

Franz was incredibly friendly and played along with us -and there were five of us aged 18 to early 70s, and fairly raucous. And maybe it´s just his superb salesmanship, but he seemed to be having fun along with us.

Here are our impressions of the JAR perfume line, in no particular order. See the end of the post for general notes.

JAR Golconda – the original JAR perfume and probably the most wearable, along with JAR Diamond Water (I believe those two are the most popular.) JAR Golconda is primarily carnation, luxe carnation, with a spicy, clove-like note, along with whatever else. I did not get the malevolent note this time -it smelled luxurious, sweet, deep and rich. (I swear I smelled stewed tomatoes in there in the drydown on my sister — Patty)

JAR Diamond Water – this one has a strong incense smell, deep and dark, with leather. It smelled amazing on Patty. (Patty: I wore this one all day, and it shifted about some, but just kept getting prettier and deeper as the day went on, for about four hours, and then it started to dissipate some, or my nose got used to what it was smelling.)

JAR Jardenia – get it? Get it? Gardenia – with a nice, heavy dollop of leather and bleu cheese. Nope, not kidding about the bleu cheese. I was completely repulsed; I kept turning away in disgust, unable to get past that particular note to the (admittedly stunning) gardenia. However, the other four members of the group found the cheese note to be varying degrees of interesting and appealing. (Patty: At the end of the day, on my niece, the bleu cheese note disappeared, and what was left was just stunning. I’m not sure I could wait the 8 hours it took to get there, as it wrinkled up my nose something awful all day, though I still found it charmingly interesting — like that crazy uncle you love that pees in your closet while he’s alive, but leaves you a bundle in his will, and you are quite sure you’d rather have him alive and peeing in your closet than his money. A slice of heaven at the end.)

JAR Bolt of Lightning – this one knocked me (March) on my fanny — a winner! Although I don’t think Patty was loving it on me. Not ozonic/ionic in the sense of, say, Demeter Thunderstorm — more a rich, green, hair-raisingly sharp smell that made me think of bamboo. One of two I chose to apply (along with Jarling.) I should note here: none of these had what I think of as “development” in the traditional sense – top, middle, base. It was all there from the start, more or less, in each scent, and/or the fragrances shifted subtly. They are all quite strong, and with the possible exception of JAR Golconda I would not describe any of them as remotely conventional. (Patty: I wasn’t all about this one, but it was definitely sharp, and I smelled wood, and my notes are silent on anything else.)

JAR Shadow – Wow. This one is virtual reality. The others found this comforting, like a childhood memory. A scent memory of some sort for all of us. Deep, rich tobacco. (Patty: I got vetiver and plenty of it. I don’t know what it reminded me of, maybe the cellar we used to go in that was full of canned things and potatoes and urns of cabbage being turned into sauerkraut or the smell of my dad or the sweet musty smell that you’d find in unexpected places. The longer I wore this one, the more I loved it. The sharpness on the open dried out, and it was just soft, like a favorite pillowcase with your beloved’s smell on it. Of all of them, this is the one I am most likely to buy and throw on my husband and then ravish him.)

JAR Jarling – the only one you could describe as remotely gourmand (excepting the cheese note in JAR Jardenia.) A floral/berry, almond-y scent with a wine-rich base. Ultimately it turned a bit boozy on me. (Patty: it turned a little too almondy cherry for me, or maybe it didn’t turn that way, the cherry just never really left and just kept it too linear.)

Ferme Tes Yeux “close your eyes” in French) – animalic in a strongly barnyard direction, according to my compatriots, who should know, having grown up on a farm. The actual smell they named is unprintable here, but that still didn´t prompt anyone to run to the ladies´ room in search of soap to wash it off – it was actually rather compelling. I am guessing this is their least popular fragrance, but what do I know? It wouldn´t smell like anything else in your wardrobe, that´s for sure. (Patty: by the end of the day, this was just barnyard on my mom. She was so brave to put it on when no one else would.)

General notes on the JAR perfume line: It was dark in there, and JAR Perfume people are so secretive I can´t find the fragrances listed anywhere online, including their website, so forgive any typos in the spelling. There is no price list either, but JAR Jarling was $470 per 30ml, and the JAR Bolt of Lightning is, I think, their most expensive at $765/30ml. I am guessing the rest are more or less in the middle. Folks who would know by smell have judged the JAR perfume absolutes among the finest money can buy. Lasting power is excellent.

Would I buy a JAR perfume? Well… let me answer this way. The outer limits of price are being tested in the luxury market all the time – my current issue of Elle features something called Sparrow essence by FreeCity (“in line with the brand’s haute-boho philosophy”), what I can only assume is high-end hippie love oil at $850 for a smallish bottle (huh, do you think they use organic sparrow essence?). Anyway, based on the assumptions about the JAR Perfume ingredient costs (Christopher Brosius found himself doing mental calculations based on his sniffage and coming up with some wildly expensive estimates) who´s to say these aren´t quite reasonably priced? Or not — I still don´t consider $500 or $800 to be an outrageous sum of money for fragrance, if it is something you really, truly love. Having said all that – I was prepared to fall in love and buy one, and I didn´t. I think a second visit would prompt another try of JAR Bolt of Lightning, along with JAR Shadow, and possibly a purchase. I think Patty is considering a JAR Perfume purchase – or even two.

(Patty: I am thinking about it, and I do wish this were easier to sample. I’d like to live with JAR Shadow and JAR Diamond Water and JAR Golconda for a few days before I plunge. As March commented, the price tag on these, after smelling them, didn’t even phase me. I think it’s a ton of money, but these reek of costly, rich ingredients, and I can’t think of one thing they smell like. You know how we all play that “What does it smell like?” game? I can’t think of anything, not one other perfume — I can only go back to scent memories, even when I can’t name them. If I were to fall in love with one, I would buy it without thinking twice. They last all day and stay very true to what they were in the beginning, although there is some movement in the drydown to keep it interesting. JAR Shadow, JAR Diamond Water and JAR Golconda are the three that are most likely to move into the Patty Household. Y’all’s job is to convince me I need them, so get busy.)

Where to buy JAR Perfume – you can get a JAR Perfume sample at Surrender to Chance


  • Lstonelove says:

    Aidez-moi! Help! Does anyone know the physical address of the JAR Parfumerie in Paris? Merci!

  • BBliss says:

    I think I tried commenting Friday and, yes today there was a glitch or 2. But it’s just fine now, it seems.
    I am also a big fan of punctuation. Actually, Mr.BBliss says I overuse the comma. I say I have my own rules based on speech patterns and The Pause, and what does he know with an English degree anyway?

    Good luck with the server or platform switch!

  • marchlion says:

    BBliss — are you having trouble with the comments?:-? We are switching ISPs or whatever it is called and I am having this weird thing where it will not let me type an apostrophe or the whole thing goes nuts — hence the stilted message here. I am All About The Apostrophe… weird.

    P should DEFINITELY buy these \:d/

  • BBliss says:

    OK – here’s my 3rd and final attempt to comment…:-w

    First, thank you for sharing this, because it is probably the closest I’ll ever come to these…unless there’s a Patty Purchase (which I totally agree and think you should live in these for a week before you decide.)

    Bolt, Diamond Water and Ferme Tes Yeux (which I think is the best name EVER) sound particularly intriguing…I would certainly make this a stop on any future NYC trip after this review!

  • cait says:

    If you get some then all of us can clamor around to try!! Get! Get!

  • Victoria O says:

    I ADORE Golconda and you are pushing me to the edge!!! I want it badly and think about it often. I bought two samples on eBay at about $12.00 each, Golconda and Jarling. They were 1/2 of a tiny glass vial. One half! And now I am in love with Golconda, and I know it is in my future. I’m afraid to smell any more.

  • Patty says:

    Chaya, I think the cheese note made that fragrance really interesting. It may eventually wind up in my collection just from the “weird” factor, but three others are in line ahead of it. 🙂

  • Patty says:

    R, you had to say that again. I’m dying that it went that cheaply. Tell me it was only half full? I’m trying to practice restraint, but only living with these will tell me if it is love? Back to my hairshirt. 🙂

  • Patty says:

    Sorry, Dusan, but you would NOT hate them all. I could predict you would like many and love at least one. Fall in love with? Don’t know. They are odd in that they inspire admiration, but I think it’s the price tag (like a high-priced hooker) that you’re not sure you want to fork over.

  • chaya ruchama says:

    Subterranean charm… hunky Teutons named Franz… stewed tomatoes… cheese…

    How could one resist?

    I sniffed Golconda when it first came out, was stunned then, and now, as it weren’t exackly bon marche then.

    A propos of cheese:

    Chez Meister, there is the consummate compliment, which gets dragged out now and again [particularly if someone is angling for something]:

    “Mama, you’re pretty like cheese”-,or, that favorite variant, ” I love you like cheese!”

    I feel cofident that there are at least a few of you who understand the significance of this…

  • violetnoir says:

    Patty, I told you that I just missed snagging Diamond Water by hair on eBay the other week, right? I think the final bid was around $150., a real bargain, huh? It sounds simply stunning. So do Golconda and Bolt of Lightning.

    I won’t tell you what to do, because any way you cut it, these are quite expensive. It sounds like you may need to test the ones you like best again before making that final decision. 😡

    Hugs and love to you both! Thank you for this lovely post. I know that I will keep reading it over..and over…and over…again.

  • Dusan says:

    “a patchouli pit of vipers” =))
    I didn’t expect Prada Amber to be butch and that is totally ok in my book. The problem is that now I’m dying to try it.
    And woman, what were you thinking! You should have said that I would have hated all of them Jars. Look what you have done to me :-ss :(( :-ss :(( :-ss :(( :-ss :(( :-ss :((

  • Patty says:

    Bianca, that $750 is pretty steep. I wish I had more recollection about Bolt of Lightning, but it just didn’t move me. Next time I got back, I’m going to put that one on and see what happens.

  • Patty says:

    Ina — we thought we’d save up that sample giveaway for, um, when we win the lottery. :-w

  • Patty says:

    Judith, I think Golconda is stunning and well worth owning for everyone. 🙂 Do you ever get the stewed tomatoes smell? And I mean that in a good way. My mom used to pepper up fresh tomatoes and put them in a pot before canning them, and that scent is one of the best scents in the world, and I swear it is in Golconda in the drydown.

  • Patty says:

    Dusan, I think Shadow would definitely be one you would love.

    Prada Pour Homme amber — both my mom and sister bought this, and I only smelled it briefly and intended to go back and revisit (time being of the essence, I put it off) and now I’m going to have to throw myself on their mercy to get my hands on some again. I HATED the chick’s Prada with a passion, just a patchouli pit of vipers, but this “pour homme” *smirk* version was just beautiful. I’m not sure it’s very homme, though.

  • Patty says:

    datagirl… I may, I may! I just keep wanting to have those two or three in my sniffing wardrobe. I really can’t say I’m totally in love with any of the three, but they are so unusual, it’s like having a Queztal in my closet.

  • Patty says:

    Sariah, you must try them. It just has to be on top of every perfumista’s “Have To Do” list, is to smell them.

  • Bianca says:

    After smelling all the perfumes, and deciding I loved Bolt of Lightening the best, the SA (not Franz….but another lovely man) just smirked at me, and then informed me of the prices…and naturally the one I coveted was the most expensive of the bunch. Gaahhh. How to justify $750 on perfume?

  • Ina says:

    Hey, no sample giveaway today, folks? :d Diamond Waters and Golconda are my fave but I need to resample Bolt of Lightning (although can’t recall if I have sniffed it before?) The whole ceremony sounds fun! Hope I can do that some time, too.

  • Judith says:

    I actually fell for the Golconda–hard–and bought it! And I’m not at all sorry! Call me conventional if you want (it is clearly the most conventional of the scents), but it is really beautiful on me (everyone who smelled it agreed). I also really like Diamond Waters, but it didn’t work as well on my skin as it did on some others (this is the only other one I tried on). And I liked Shadow–and (oh, dear) Ferme tes Yeux. I was very glad that Bolt of Lightning didn’t do it for me. I, too, felt that Jardenia smelled like bleu cheese; I thought I was crazy until I heard that others had that impression. And Jardenia, for some reason, scared me. The experience as a whole was well worth having, even though I did not get the dreamy Franz.

  • Dusan says:

    Whoa! I had to read the post twice coz I was so dumbfounded by the prices the first time around. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the dough, I’d splurge without thinking twice. Now, wasn’t that a good enough boost? 😉
    My heart aches for Shadow and Bolt of Lightening, but I’m not sure I’d want to ferme mes yeux, no thanx.
    Off-JAR-topic — could you, please, describe the men’s Prada in more detail, how does it compare to Prada Chick etc.? (both M and P) ^:)^

  • datagirl says:

    Patty, do it! Then decant them and offer them to us with a little markup for your trouble. We all want to try them!!!

  • Sariah says:

    Wow, sounds like quite an experience, and I love that your family is so game about all this sniffage Patty. I will definitely check it out next time I’m in NYC.

    I want to try Ferme Le Yeax too! And the Jarling – love the cherry/almond.

  • Patty says:

    Elle — weird, I got zero mint in Shadow. Huh. It is one of the lesser priced ones. $325, I think. It just really got to me. I loved Diamond Waters, it was prettier in so many ways, and I’d kill to have that one for sure, but something about Shadow captured me. The longer I wore it, the more beautiful it became.

  • Patty says:

    Marina, I thought of you and Judith when I smelled that one, it just seemed like one both of you would swoon over. I imagine that is a little how MKK smells, though I still haven’t been brave enough to smell MKK

  • Elle says:

    At last! The JAR reviews! I want Diamond Waters and Bolt of Lightning so much they make me weep, but I just haven’t been able to justify the cost yet w/ so many other less expensive lemmings jumping up and down and begging to be bought first. Ferme tes Yeux…OMG. That has to be the worst thing I’ve ever smelled. Shadow was like an icy cold church to me w/ its clove and mint notes – very medicinal…not sure it would inspire passion in me, but I will have to resniff my sample. Great to read your takes on these scents! BTW, I think Diamond Waters runs around $400 (maybe $450 and I’m just trying to blur reality)and Shadow is also one of the less expensive (??) ones.

  • Marina says:

    I want to try Terme Tes Yeux!!