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Diamine Shimmertastic inks review

shimmerdrops2A little bit of history

A couple of years ago there was a lot of buzz about another brand (you all know which one) putting shiny sparkles into a handful of their inks. It looked fun, but it was expensive, and Diamine don’t do things by halves.  They brought out a whole set of ten, then followed it up this year with twelve more shimmering inks, each sporting a healthy dose of gold or silver coloured glitter.  What could be more fitting for our Christmas meta-review?

Ink! What is it good for?

Well let’s be honest, this isn’t one you’re likely to take to work, unless your job involves writing Christmas cards (it’s absolutely brilliant for that).  This is ink for having fun with!  If you treat it wisely, it will work in ordinary fountain pens and there are only two modest caveats.  Firstly, always give the bottle a very thorough shake before filling the pen, and ideally use a pen which can stand a gentle perturbation before writing too; the glitter is in suspension, not in solution, and will laze on the bottom unless stirred into life.  Secondly, any particulate matter can gum-up pen parts in time, so pick a pen which you can thoroughly dismantle for the occasional clean, including the converter or piston (TWSBIs and most Platinums are therefore a good choice).  Other than that, you can sparkly-scribble to your heart’s content.

VFM

The going rate is about £9 for 50ml, which makes this noticeably more expensive than the standard fountain pen inks from Diamine, but still very good value compared to some of the more ‘exotic’ inks around.  The base colours are for the most part very nice inks in their own right, and other than occasionally bleeding-through with very wet nibs, or feathering on cheap paper, they’re pretty well-behaved too.  You really can’t go too far wrong.

 OK now, that’s enough chat – show me the shiny!

The bright blueslight-blues

We start with a couple of absolute crackers.  Blue Lightning, a very bright blue with silver sparkles, has a loyal following from the original collection, while Tropical Glow has become an immediate favourite with almost everyone who’s tried it, even making the ‘Too Many Peacocks‘ Christmas Day hit list.  ‘Not a bad way to start, eh?tropicalglow2

lightning2

The dark bluesrich-blues

Blue Flame and Blue Pearl are fairly traditional royal blues, with gold or silver sparkles respectively; the effect is predictable but pleasing.blueflame2bluepearl2Enchanted Ocean and Shimmering Seas are a little harder to categorise – like the sea, they keep changing colour as the light shifts. But both are broadly blue-black with either green or purple hints, with a spot of iridescence from bioluminescent plankton at the surface.

shimmeringsea2

The reds

reds

Pink Glitz is, unusually for a pink, so riotously butch that you could put it in a PFM and get away with it, while Red Lustre could safely be spilled all over the Christmas tablecloth without anyone noticing.  Firestorm Red and Inferno Orange look a lot like the open fire you’re meant to be roasting some chestnuts on right now (but thanks for taking a break to read this instead).pink1 redlustre3 firestorm1infernoorange2

The browns

browns

This civilised set of browns goes all the way from molten chocolate to wet beach, and the sparkles really add something to what can otherwise be a somewhat drab colour for inks. They really do work surprisingly well on the page.brandydazzle2 caramel3

The greens

greens2

Green ink has its devoted fans, and here are a couple of splendid stocking fillers for any you encounter.  Magical Forest is almost perfect for writing the price list in  your neighbourhood crystal healing emporium, while the lime green with golden sparkles of Golden Oasis looks for all the world like a gecko flitting by.golden-oasis2

magicalforest3 magicalforest2

The greys

greys2

moondust2

While not everyone feels that grey is quite the colour for the festive season, re-brand it as silver and everything’s fine.  So here we have dark silver with bright silver sparkles (hmm, subtle) darker silver with golden sparkles (less subtle), and silver with the lights off (OK, OK, it’s black).  The dark base ink does show the sparkles up quite effectively.nightsky2

The purples

purples

Of course we’ve saved the best for last – for those into a spot of purple action at least!  Two of these have already featured on Too Many Purples and the third will follow soon.  Purple Pazzazz is a warm purple which is quite reminiscent of Lamy’s much-trumpeted dark lilac, but easier to get hold of and with golden sparkles to boot; what’s not to like?  Lilac Satin is not unlike Diamine’s earlier Iris from the flowers box set, with added silvery shine, and that’s a rather splendid finish too. Finally, Magenta Flash is a very purpley sort of magenta for a change (no pinks in disguise here), and looks rather spectacular in a wet-nibbed pen of your choice.

magenta3

pazzazz2

Come and get it!

You can get hold of your own Shimmertastic supplies in all of the usual favourite online sources, or direct from Diamine themselves.  Easy peasy.

This meta-review draws upon:

Thanks to:

Pure Pens for samples of the original ten flavours, Diamine themselves for samples of the new twelve colours, and Cult Pens for sponsorship-in-kind to get big bottles of some of the best for sharing-around.

 

Deep Dark Inks collection

A bit of history  Diamine have been making a splendid range of inks in Liverpool since 1864, and as well as their own extensive branded range of fountain pen refuelling solutions, they occasionally make an ink or two specially for another company, pen manufacturer, or indeed anyone who asks nicely and stumps up the cash.  Fine examples include the series they used to make for Conway Stewart, the handsome collection cooked-up for PW Akkerman, and indeed the eponymous SBRE Brown.  You can hardly blame the mighty Cult Pens team for getting in on the act – and so, starting with a nice rich blue, they have gradually developed a striking collection of inks which do just what they say on the bottle; they’re deep, they’re dark, and, well, inky.

Deep Dark Blue kicked-off the collection, with the aim of getting a blue similar that in the Cult Pens logo.  It looks a bit darker than that when it first goes on to the paper, but dries to a dark blue that is just on the blue side of blue-black.  ‘Probably an ideal choice for writing with at work if you want something suitably sober but still more interesting than standard ‘school’ blue.  It’s good stuff, which Stuart declares his favourite deep blue ever, and you can watch Ian put it through its paces here too.

blueDeep Dark Brown is as far as dark as brown can go without becoming black really, but Diamine have pulled it off.  If you ever need to dash off a quick facsimile of the Magna Carta, then this is probably the ink for you – although if you can also write more legibly than those thirteenth-century scribes that would be greatly appreciated by constitutional law experts the world over.brownDeep Dark Red is almost a must-have ink, especially if you want a red ink which you can legitimately use at work without being mistaken for a very unimpressed teacher.  It manages to stay red without fading into brownish hues, as Oxblood tends to, and rather surprisingly it’s Scribble’s favourite (purple fans may now need a little sit-down to recover). Ian loves this one too.redDeep Dark Green provides seems a logical addition to the mix, although we’re struggling to think of many occasions when it would be the ideal choice.  In the dusty corridors of Whitehall, writers of incendiary letters of complaint to ministers are traditionally known as missives from the ‘green ink brigade’, and rare as it is for governmental correspondence to be issued in any sort of fountain pen ink at all, this seems right for the job.  Green ink is also still used by the chief of MI6, but it’s going to take C quite a while to get through the whole production run of this ink without some assistance…greenDeep Dark Purple has been one of the star turns in Scribble’s over-the-top Too Many Purples mega-review, and for good reason; purple ink obsessives need something which they can get away with using at work!  This one has a special trick up its sleeve, too – if you really pour it onto the page you’ll notice a striking green sheen floating to the top, and it’s quite a sight.purpleDeep Dark Orange seems like a tall order, and the risk of smudging into a light brown must have been a seat-of-the-pants ink-blending challenge, but they made it (in both senses).  Somewhere between Pumpkin and Ancient Copper, if you know your Diamines, this ink has impressive shading in the right nib.  A bit of a connoisseur of all things orange, even Ian was impressed.orangeWhat next?  Cult Pens are working on the understanding that this collection is now complete, and with six stonking inks who can blame them?  But then again, if Deep Dark Orange is possible, surely Deep Dark Turquoise should be!  Here’s a mock-up of how that could look, mixed from Havasu Turquoise and 1864 Blue-Black, but the boffins at Diamine could do it so much better.  What do you think?turquoiseGetting hold of a refill is a simple enough job since all three of the standard Diamine packages are available; pre-filled international cartridges, 30ml sample bottles or the classic 80ml glass flagons.  Better still, until the end of March 2016 you can get a 10% discount by going to the website and using this code: CULT10 (remember to enter it in capitals).

If you want to see even more you can Scribble’s hand-written review and Ruth’s video review too!