The birthplace of the Damask rose is Southwest Asia where it was considered a decorative plant.
Its name refers to the city of Damascus. The merit of bringing this plant from Persia to Europe is attributed to the crusader Robert de Brie, spellbound by its beauty and perfume, on his return from the crusade in around 1254.
The cultivation of the rose for industrial purposes started in the 9th century in India and Egypt. The Egyptians were already utilizing plant essential oils to preserve the mummies. It was the Persian physician Avicenna who conducted the very first distillation of pure rose essential oil.
During the 17th century, the rose plant was introduced in Bulgaria and its cultivation started in the “rose valley”.
The Damask rose, nowadays known and renowned around the world, has become a celebrity among 5000 other registered rose varieties and is being perceived as a national emblem by the Bulgarian people.
Its unrivalled qualities are defined by the plant’s complex structure of almost 300 molecular constituents, some of which cannot be reproduced by synthesis.
This more than 200-year old ritual requires, for the long and meticulous work of picking blossoms, confident and precise hand movements that can be acquired only through training and experience. The reason is that the harvest takes place only once a year, in the spring, and lasts some 20 days.
After the blossoming that takes place for 20 to 30 days, the petals are picked early in the morning (between 5 and 9 am) before the evaporation of the dew, in order to obtain as much oil as possible. Great care is needed when picking the petals in order to preserve all the freshness of the flowers and the delicacy of their very volatile essence. Afterwards the gathered petals must be promptly processed before they lose their precious ingredients. Hence the essence is distilled just several hours after the harvest because the petals are not resistant to the heat, transport or light.
The Rose Elixir
The Damask rose, beside its cosmetic properties, also contributes to our internal beauty.
The Valcena rose elixir is a 100% natural drink on the basis of Damask rose petals.
Low in calories, it has been utilized for decades for its multiple properties.
Very beneficial for the digestion, it restores the digestive equilibrium. The elixir refreshes the body and the spirit.
Lastly, it purifies the body by stimulating the elimination of toxins.
Available in certified Valcena centres.
Exclusive rights in France
In the past, the rose essence was considered a universal remedy. In the Antiquity the rose was frequently used for its medical and even supernatural benefits. Nowadays, its properties are recognized in particular in the fields of cosmetology, beauty and well-being.
Used as rose oil and rose water, the rose maintains the tone of the skin, its youth and radiance, while also regenerating the cells.
It contributes to the renewal of the skin cells and thus prevents against the premature ageing of the skin. That is why in particular the rose is used as an ingredient in products intended to counteract the signs of ageing.
The natural components of the petals are equally rich in tannic and gallic acids which endow them with tonifying and astringent properties.
Finally, it is perfect for sensitive skin owing to its soothing, anti-inflammatory and softening qualities and its ability to reduce redness.
In this way, the Damask rose provides a response adapted to the issues of each skin types.
The Rose Valley
The Rose Valley, with a centre the town of Kazanlak, is situated between two mountain ranges: the Balkans and Sredna Gora.
This location offers to the Damask rose exceptional climate conditions and excellent soil qualities that have led to its successful establishment in the area.
The methods employed since the 17th century in the Rose Valley have permitted to preserve the plant’s appearance practically unchanged since its introduction.
The Bulgarian producers use an original approach to prepare the land called “kesme” (“кесме” in Bulgarian). The soil is worked during the entire year in order to maintain an appropriate humidity level during the summer and protect the roots during the winter.
This specific natural environment, the experience in rose cultivation and the production of essential oil dating back to three centuries ago have turned the Bulgarian rose, called Rose absolute, into a rose kind in its own right, different from the others due to its anatomy and physiology.
The Extraction of the Rose Absolute
The absolute is obtained by distillation and enfleurage of the petals that are exposed to some very powerful steam in copper or steel vats several meters high. The air gets saturated with rose fragrance. Each vat is filled with petals and pure water and this is followed by the appearance of a thin, pale-yellow precious layer floating on its surface. It is decanted, filtered and conditioned. After that the oil is preserved in glass vessels closed with a wax stopper as was the custom in the old days.
More than 3 tonnes of petals are needed to get a litre of rose absolute. Today, the chemical industry is yet to come up with a synthetic product perfectly imitating this subtle natural base that has almost 300 molecular components.
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