Selecting a fragrance can be difficult especially when you are buying online! But have you ever used the fragrance wheel? This wonderful invention was developed by Michael Edwards, a fragrance expert in 1992.  It has evolved since then, reflecting modern fragrance and the way we perceive smell but it has become the basis of all scents.

Do you remember the colour wheel from art classes at school? Where colours were placed according to their relationship with each other. One colour blends into the next. Opposite colours mean something. The fragrance wheel works in a very similar way and is a great tool to determine the kind of scents you are looking for. 

The circular diagram depicts every scent family and the subfamilies within them. The groups bordering one another are implied to share common olfactory characteristics so will almost always blend well together.

Fragrance Wheel

Families within the fragrance wheel

The fragrance wheel has four main families: FLORAL, AMBERY, WOODY and FRESH. Under each of these families are sub-groups that go into more detail and describe the scent eg ‘Floral Ambery’, ‘Fresh Citrus’. Where they place on the wheel matters. A Floral scent, with the addition of certain notes, will become a Soft Floral etc. 


Freesia Olome NotesFloral

With aromas reminiscent of freshly cut flowers, this family is considered feminine, and contains captivating notes like jasmine, bright lily and musky romantic rose.These fragrances can be surprisingly complicated and delicate at the same time, depending on the scent’s intensity and the other notes that are added to the blend.

Amber (previously known as Oriental)

Most perfumers consider this to be the most luxurious fragrance family. Amber fragrances feature full, rich scents with sugary, piquant notes such as: powdery, vanilla-like orchid, noble and lush vanilla, spicy, inviting cinnamon and aromatic and spicy cardamom. These fragrances are highly sensual and exotic.



The woody family contains warm, opulent aromas with tones of buttery, powdery sandalwood, dark, rich amber or dry cedar wood. Because of the inherent sweetness of the woody notes, they are often blended with floral and fresh notes, which create scents that are a bit lighter and brighter.


Cloves Olome Fragrance Mid Note


This scent family is refreshing and vibrant. Imagine bright, citrus-based, oceanic, herbal, green notes that often contain woody elements. Often they are blended with spicy notes for a more sophisticated scent. 


Sub groups within the fragrance wheel

The sub-groups, together with their main notes really give you the detail that you might need to smell the fragrance in your mind. Being able to depict what the fragrance contains and drawing on your emotions for these scents will enable you to  narrow down your choice– you’ll probably be drawn to some instinctively, while others will instantly make you turn your nose up!

  • Floral – Fresh-cut flowers
  • Soft Floral – Aldehydes and powdery notes
  • Floral Oriental – Orange blossom and sweet spices
  • Soft Ambery- Incense and amber
  • Ambery – Ambery resins
  • Woody Ambery – Sandalwood and patchouli
  • Woods Main – Aromatic woods and vetiver
  • Mossy Woods – Oakmoss and amber
  • Dry Woods – Dry woods and leather
  • Aromatic – Lavender and aromatic herbs
  • Citrus – Bergamot and other citrus oils
  • Water – Marine and aquatic notes
  • Green – Galbanum and green notes
  • Fruity – Berries and non-citrus fruits

How to use the The Fragrance Wheel

The fragrance wheel can not only help you decide on what type of fragrance you are looking for but it can also help you select fragrances that will work well together and blend.There are 3 main ways that you can use the wheel:

  1. Choose Opposite Scents – Once you have decided your preferred fragrance subfamily, it can then be paired with one that is across from it on the aroma wheel. The resulting fragrance is certain to please and delight.
  2. Select Fragrances That Are Side by Side On The Fragrance Wheel
  3. Pick Aromas That Form A Triangle – Selecting three fragrances that create a triangle while looking at the wheel will usually complement each other nicely and will determine a pleasant olfactory experience.

Come and smell for yourself

The wheel is a tool to help you narrow down your choices and can be a great help if you are looking to blend other scents but there is nothing like smelling a fragrance for real. Our showroom on the North Shore of Auckland has candle samples of all our scents. We are open from 8am – 3pm Monday to Friday so come on down and find that fragrance that is perfect for you.