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Is It worth the Price for Expensive Perfumes?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 21, 2024
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Buying expensive perfumes doesn't necessarily ensure you'll prefer the scent over that of lower-priced fragrances. Some costly perfumes offer exotic ingredients, however. The quality of some expensive perfumes may also be better than that of cheap colognes. The decision of whether to spend a lot of money on perfumes should be weighed carefully.

It might be worth spending more money for perfumes, if the user is sensitive to certain ingredients. Some of the high-cost fragrances are made with natural or organic oils, making them less likely to cause irritation. Synthetic ingredients found in some cheap fragrances may cause skin rashes or other reactions. For someone who has sensitivity issues, buying expensive perfume may be worth the cost.

It's wise to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing costly perfumes. Some experts believe wearing expensive fragrances is a waste of money, as the concentrated formula simply does not create the desired effect. Many of the high-priced perfumes are created by mixing fragrant oils together. The fusion of several scents may be overbearing to some. Others believe, however, this helps define the essence of human pheromones.

These factors may not be relevant to everyone who prefers expensive perfume. Some people buy costly perfumes simply for the decorative bottles they come in. Buying expensive designer fragrances, or designer clothing and accessories, may be a hobby for some. Some people enjoy collecting these perfumes, just as others collect porcelain. For collectors of exotic fragrances, it is worth the price.

Very expensive perfume may be packaged in a limited-edition bottle. Many of these perfumes are bottled in delicate crystal. Some manufacturers issue a series of collectible bottles. Some bottles may be made with gold plating, making the perfume more desirable for some. Collectors find buying these high-end perfumes to be a worthwhile hobby.

Additionally, expensive fragrances may be custom made for the discriminating collector. Some collectors request various custom bottle designs. It is not uncommon for celebrities to request custom designed bottles to reflect their taste.

Buying an expensive perfume as a unique gift to present to a special recipient can often be worth the cost. For special occasions, it may be worth the money to indulge in a bottle of costly perfume. For those who find it impractical to buy very expensive fragrances, there is an alternative. A favorite fragrance may be purchased at a lower cost in a spray cologne, rather than a perfume bottle.

What Is the Most Expensive Perfumes

Which perfume is considered the most expensive? There are several ways to consider what qualifies as "the most expensive perfume." There is the single most expensive bottle. Some brands are worth a lot of money. There are sales of fragrances from companies all over the world. The Guinness Book of World Records has several records listed for the most expensive perfumes.

Most Expensive Perfume Commercially Available

The world record for the "most expensive commercially available perfume" is the Clive Christian No.1 for Men or No.1 for Women. In November of 2005, there was a limited edition of the perfume created. The No.1 Imperial Majesty production run only had 10 bottles made. Each 500-milliliter bottle was made of Baccarat crystal, had a five-carat diamond accent, and 18-carat gold trim. The bottle was delivered via a Bentley. When originally sold, each bottle cost $205,000.

Most Expensive Perfume Sold in a Private Sale

As of this writing, Guinness World Records has listed a category for no registered record for "most expensive perfume sold in a private sale," but no one has registered a claim on this category.

Most Diamonds Set on a Perfume Bottle

Some consider the most expensive perfume to be SHUMUKH of The Spirit of Dubai. Guinness World Records lists it as the record holder for the "most diamonds set on a perfume bottle." Designed in 2019 for Nabeel Perfumes, the 3-liter bottle was adorned with 3,571 diamonds. The carat weight of the diamonds is 38.55. The one-of-a-kind item is made of Murano crystal, decorated with 2.5 kilograms of 18-karat gold, 5.9 kilograms of silver, large pearls, and a two-meter tall cushion. It was priced at $1,295,000.

How Much is the Most Expensive Perfume

Global perfume sales are worth more than $32 billion and are expected to grow more than 6% a year. The fragrance industry has many major perfume designers. Some companies consistently have the most highly valued brands.

Most Expensive Perfume Brands

The most expensive perfumes sell for incredibly high amounts of money. Aside from the official record setters, there are many high-priced perfumes from leading designers.

  • DKNY Golden Delicious Limited Edition - $1 million for a unique bottle
  • Chanel No. 5 Limited Edition Grand Extrait - $30,000 for 30.4 ounces
  • New Bond St. Amorpha by Bond No. 9 - $7,500 for 42 ounces

Most Valuable Perfume Companies

Cosmetics companies are in constant development of new products. There are many players in the industry that lead in the total revenue of their perfume sold. Some of the most valuable cosmetic and perfume companies include:

  • Avon - Founded in London in 1886, it sold more than $5.5 billion across 70 countries in 2018.
  • Chanel - Founded in Paris in 1910, it made over $11 billion worldwide in 2018.
  • Coty - Founded in New York in 1904, it earned over $9.4 billion in 2018.

Brand versus Quality

The extravagant price of the most expensive perfumes in the world is primarily a result of marketing and branding. Diamond bottles or distribution do not create a better smell. Certainly, these brands do use top-quality components in the synthesis of their fragrances. It is the quality of the perfume that indicates how long it will truly hold its value as a scent.

How Long Does Expensive Perfume Last

The short answer is that even an expertly crafted fragrance will break down over time. Most have a shelf life of 5 years. After opening the bottle and exposing it to air, a perfume tends to break down between 1 and 10 years. This depends primarily on the handling of the oils in crafting, how it is stored, and its concentration.

Perfume Oil Volatility

Premium carrier oil components with stronger bass notes such as woods, spices, and balsamic tend to last the longest. The more volatile oils with stronger top notes from flowers, citrus, and aromatics tend to speed up the breakdown process.

Perfume Storage

There are several easy tips for properly storing a perfume to increase its potency.

  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Avoid fluctuation of temperatures
  • Keep in a mildly cool temperature
  • Store in a dry location
  • Avoid exposing the contents directly to air

Types of Perfume by Strength

The concentration of the perfume oil blend in the alcohol carrier determines how long the smell lasts outside of the bottle. From the lowest percentage of perfume oil to the highest, the general types of perfume are:

  • Eau Fraiche - 1-3%
  • Eau de Cologne - 2-5%
  • Eau de Toilet - 5-15%
  • Eau de Parfume - 10-20%

What Is the Most Expensive Perfume in the World?

Up until recently, Clive Christian No. 1 Imperial Majesty was the most expensive perfume at $12,722 per ounce. That place has been taken by the recent creation of Shumukh, coming in at $1.29 million. Along with the ingredients, the packaging is one of the main reasons the perfume costs this much.

Fans of expensive perfume will be delighted by the beautiful packaging. Shumukh comes in a leather display case about two meters high and an ornately designed bottle.

It has 3,571 diamonds and includes topaz and pearls, along with gold and silver ornaments. The creators of the perfume incorporated the seven elements of Dubai, which include:

  • Falconry
  • Pearl diving
  • Arabian horses
  • Roses
  • Luxury
  • Arabic hospitality
  • The status as "city of the future"

The bottle is made of Italian Murano crystal and is one of a kind. It comes with either a gold or silver remote control to operate the automated spray and rotate the pedestal it comes on.

It took three years of research and 494 trials to create this opulent perfume, showing dedication to creating the perfect scent. It holds two Guinness World records for most diamonds set on a perfume bottle and the tallest remote-controlled fragrance spray. Orders of this perfume take four to six months to complete and have features that each buyer can customize.

Other contenders for most expensive perfumes include DKNY Golden Delicious, retailing at $1 million. This perfume is a special edition of the Golden Delicious range and is the only one. It has 2,909 precious stones, including:

  • 2,700 white diamonds
  • 183 yellow sapphires
  • A Sri Lankan Cabochon sapphire
  • Turquoise Paraiba tourmaline
  • Four rose cut diamonds
  • Fifteen pink diamonds

Depending on the factors you are considering, the most expensive perfume may refer to the bottle, scarcity, or ingredients.

What Is the Most Expensive Perfume Made Of?

Shumukh consists of several luxurious ingredients that only enhance the perfume experience. It has:

  • Amber- This has a sweet, cozy, and warm smell. It is in the musk group and has an Oriental note. There is also a note of powder recreated from a mix of balsams, vanilla, fir, benzoin, styrax, and labdanum
  • Sandalwood- This is a woody oriental scent. It has a green top note and is milky, soft, and rich. Sandalwood comes from different areas around the world. 
  • Musk- Musks can come from synthetic or natural ingredients, like plants. It has an animalic smell. 
  • Indian Agarwood- This has a musty, woody scent with a hint of nut. It is a rich smell that is popular in the Middle East. 
  • Turkish rose- Roses have a lemony fresh smell with notes of powder and fruit. It is also feminine and clean. 
  • Patchouli- This plant is an exotic bush with a sweet, dark, woody scent. It is popular in many blends and can be synthetic.
  • Ylang-ylang- This scent has a sweet, floral, and rich smell. It also has hints of banana and wood. 
  • Frankincense- Also known as Olibanum, this is a woody, spicy, green scent. It has a fruity top note and has a fresh balsamic smell.

Does Expensive Perfume Last Longer?

Shumukh lasts for 12 hours on the skin, making it a long-lasting fragrance. Many perfumes last for between three and 12 hours at most. Several factors affect how long scents last on your skin. The molecular composition, concentration, and skin type are all factors.

Depending on the perfume and what is in it, the molecules will oxidize slow or fast. Scents made with large molecules last longer and will stay on your skin longer. Next, concentration is an essential factor. You will commonly see Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum in fragrances. Concentration refers to the number of essential oils and aroma chemicals diluted in alcohol.

It is a common misconception that a more concentrated fragrance lasts longer, but this is not exactly true. If the scent has small molecules, it will not last long, no matter how potent the perfume is.

Finally, the type of skin you have will determine how long your fragrance will last after putting it on. Oily skin holds scents better and can improve longevity. The fragrance oils bind better with the oils on your skin and maintain the scent longer. If you do not have oily skin, you can imitate this by moisturizing before putting your fragrance on. Try using oil or petroleum jelly on the area you want to spray.

Generally, expensive perfume does not last unusually long unless it has large, complex molecules. Oriental, musks, woods, and amber are a few elements that last longest in fragrances.

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Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Mar 26, 2012
@fify, @turkay1-- I don't know why you guys are arguing over this -- clearly, it's a personal preference!

More expensive perfumes work better for some people and cheaper ones work better for others. If you ask me, I use both! I have a couple of high end, very expensive perfumes that were gifted to me by my husband and mom. I do like them and generally use them on special occasions.

I also have several much cheaper perfumes that I use on a daily basis. I can't afford to buy expensive perfumes all the time, so that's why I don't use them every day. I save them for important days. I don't worry about using up cheaper perfumes because I can always buy more.

So neither one can really replace the other, they both have their place with me.

By candyquilt — On Mar 25, 2012

@fify-- I actually like perfumes that are light and disappear in several hours!

I am really sensitive to scents and heavy and long-lasting scents give me a migraine. I've tried some of those really expensive perfumes at the mall. They are usually too heavy for me and by the time I go home, I have a terrible migraine.

I've even had an allergic reaction to one of those perfumes before. I sprayed it on my skin at the store and five minutes later, I developed a red itchy rash there! It was horrible, it didn't go away until I took a shower and washed it all off!

I like cheaper perfumes for exactly this reason. They are lighter, more refreshing and never give me migraines. As sensitive as I am, I've never had an allergic reaction to cheaper perfumes either. Expensive perfumes are not worth it at all in my opinion.

By fify — On Mar 25, 2012

I've used many different kinds of perfumes, expensive, cheap, from well known brands as well as brands I had never heard of before. Quality wise, I do believe that more expensive perfumes have better quality. Higher end perfumes are more potent, longer lasting and provide a wider range of scents to choose from.

I bought a cheap perfume just recently and the perfume was literally missing the last note! Perfumes have three notes. The first note is the scent you smell in the first 15 minutes of applying it. The second note is the second scent you smell in the next 30 minutes. The final, third note is the last scent that remains on your skin and lingers on for ideally several hours minimum.

This cheap perfume does not have a third note! It disappears in 45 minutes! I never have this happen with more expensive perfumes, their scent usually stays with me all day.

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