The Sandalwood Incense Review aka "The Crest Jewel Edit"

Why choose Crest Jewel?

Crest Jewel offers what has become known as the Sandalwood Incense Review also known as the “Crest Jewel Edit”--what we consider to be the most sublime and heavenly Sandalwood, Rose, Frankincense and Aloeswood incense available today. We also carry several truly extraordinary “blends” including, of course, our favorite Nag Champa.  There are certainly sources on the internet that provide a far greater selection of incense than Crest Jewel.  But few can match our forty year track record for being a respected credible source for the highest quality sandalwood incense and sandalwood, frankincense and rose essential oils.

We keep it simple for our customers. Purchasing incense on-line today can be much like entering a perfume store in Cairo, Egypt or visiting the perfume department at Barney’s in New York City.  The choices available are overwhelming and wonderful but often confusing. One needs a guide to come out with a good choice.

We don’t look for incense to merely change the scent in a room. We prefer incense:

  • conducive for meditation creating stillness and silence in the mind and body
  • that has a positive effect and sets a background tone to creativity
  • that creates an environment for clarity in whatever we are doing
  • with sticks that do not topple in the brass burner on this page.

       

The Infinite Inhale….

Indian incense is sublime and uplifting with a certain subtlety -- like a gift or offering of devotion to the divine. The ones that we like the most have a sweetness, an “infinite inhale” that is clear and open and elevating. The lingering after scent is pleasant, soothing and clarifying.

That is the standard we desire for the incense we choose. For every incense we offer there are many customers who appreciate each one for its particular “infinite inhale” experience--where the body does not have to put up stops to protect itself. All of the incense that we pick passes that test for many of our customers.

When incense is “smoky” we don’t like it. When incense is composed of impure ingredients or artificial perfumes we don’t like that either

 Our specialty is Sandalwood…

But Mostly Sandalwood Incense... 

For years our store carried the most extraordinary sandalwood incense. It was named “The Crest Jewel's Own Extra Special Celestial Sandalwood” for a reason. We had it made especially for us. There was nothing else like it! But when we ran out three years ago we did not re-order. We tried to have it made but the samples we received were not satisfactory. The quality of the sandalwood ingredients had changed and we no longer wanted to associate the Crest Jewel label with what would have been produced at that time. Still that is our benchmark for the "infinite inhale" experience.

Sandalwood in India was being clear cut in places and generally over harvested. The quality that we required for our “celestial” private label brand was simply not available. Sandalwood trees are now under protection of the Government of India to promote sustainable practices.

For more background information on the current situation in India click here.


For all our incense customers know it is not the end of our brand. This is merely a necessary hiatus while nature recovers!

In the meantime there is still great demand for sandalwood incense in the marketplace.   To respond to that demand other ingredients are being added to sandalwood incense formulas in an attempt by many manufacturers to simulate the scent of pure sandalwood. That is why many of the “sandalwood” brands familiar to us are no longer pure.  Some of them are made of little if any sandalwood at all. The formulas many companies are using to simulate sandalwood seem to be changing frequently. We constantly test and  re-test and notice that brands may change from time to time and even sometimes from order to order!

One example was Lakshmi brand. It then became Yoga brand. Originally it was considered to be a wonderful reasonably priced sandalwood incense. But Yoga brand changed it’s formula dramatically in 2008 and we stopped offering it. Yoga brand has continued to change its formulas and many of our customers are now asking for it again. It’s not a pure sandalwood but for those customers with a deep brand loyalty we are now willing to sell it again.

Our favorite yoga brand incense (the one we all love so much).  If you have a box of yoga brand that looks like this, treasure it!


The reformulated version with new packaging (buyer beware)...But the formula does seem to be changing in a positive direction.

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Some of the incense favorites we have carried during the past 5 years have been discontinued. For example from our previous incense “favorites” list, the following are no longer available:

In fact nearly every time we place an order some of our choices are no longer available. Needless to say, the world of incense in India has been going through a major adjustment for some time.  We do our best to stay on top of this for you. We are always looking for and testing new sandalwoods as they become available.  


These are the only sandalwood incense brands we carry in 2016:

Still our favorite. Second year in a row. Woody scent. 

this year's packaging

last year's packaging

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Brought back as a favorite since the fragrance is light and gentle and the sticks are thin and delicate.

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These are no longer favorites for our purposes since the sticks are too long for our favorite shaped incense burner shown in the middle of this page:

Billed as resin incense. The sandalwood is pure. Sticks too long for incense burner on this page.

A new resin incense that has the pure quality we like. But sticks too long for our purposes.

Only 1 rose incense made the list:

Picture coming soon of our rose incense

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With the increasing popularity of resin incense more frankincense brands are passing the test. Here are our current favorites:

Of all the resin incenses in the Mt. Naturals line our favorite is Frankincense and Myrrh

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The search for incense purity

We carried more Indian incense in the past but many of those brands have now been discontinued. In Japan there is a strong tradition of maintaining purity of ingredients used in the manufacture of incense. I have enjoyed the incense I purchased in Kyoto many many years ago but it seemed to be an acquired taste for many of our customers until recently. Now in their search for purity they have begun to appreciate the more exotic Japanese incense flavors. We think it is time to revisit the kind of incense I discovered in Japan long ago. We will continue to carry the more common Japanese sandalwood incense our customers have requested but we want to begin an adventure discovering other possibilities.

Though Japanese incense is also very refined and subtle and devotional it seems to offer the subjective experience of an earth connection not found in Indian incense.  The herbal spice mixtures and ingredients chosen seem to offer a grounding earth element adding a deep connected wholeness to the devotional experience. Perhaps that need for balance and to feel more grounded in this fast paced world we live in is another reason (in addition to purity) why Japanese and similarly Tibetan incense is becoming more popular today.

Our latest focus: Aloeswood and Agarwood

Aloeswood incense is a new direction for us. The exuded sticks are very fragile. It is one of the most popular incense categories in the world today. It is used in many kinds of incense but is most commonly found in high quality Japanese incense. Aloeswood and Agarwood incense are often considered by incense connoisseurs to be the most valued.

The best Japanese incense formulas in the past were usually presented in a beautiful wooden box often made of Paulownia wood for their protection though today many incense companies have stopped packaging their product in a wooden box. A really good aloeswood incense is like sublime food. It nourishes and grounds you but also takes you to a place of perfect stillness.