Ambergris is formed from a secretion of the bile duct in the intestines of the sperm whale, and can be found floating on the sea or washed up on the coast. It is also sometimes found in the abdomens of dead sperm whales.

This substance, often called "floating gold," is produced only by a tiny percentage of sperm whales. It can float in the ocean for decades until it eventually washes up on shore.


Amber is found in many forms: large blocks, balls or egg shapes, broken layers or strata, small jagged pieces, very hard rolls. The material is best preserved suspended in a cotton cloth.


The colour of ambergris varies from black, through dark brown, through light brown to yellow/gold or even grey. The colour tends to lighten with time, giving it a tighter and finer texture.


Infusions of the same piece of ambergris made at different times can produce quite different results. Leading perfumers develop the great skill of being able to blend infusions to produce a consistency in odour