Diamine Ink

Richard Binder says nice things about Diamine ink–according to him it’s as trouble free as Waterman ink (mostly, but not entirely my experience–see below), and unlike Waterman it comes in a hundred colours.

Diamine ink isn’t expensive, either. A big 80ml glass bottle comes in at around 6 quid and you can buy smaller plastic 30ml vials for proportionally less–mostly you have to get these from the Diamine website, which doesn’t play nicely with any Mac browser. Delivery is fast, at least–I ordered 8 new colours and received the package the next morning.

Diamine the ten

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at ten different colours of diamine ink, do some writing samples, swabs and chromatography.

The 80ml bottle (right) looks great. The vials aren’t exciting but 30ml is actually a lot of ink. It’s worth noting a couple of things about the vials, though:

  1. the caps are on very tight, so they don’t leak in the post–so they’re hard work to undo
  2. they’re pretty full, so you need to be a bit careful when filling a pen for the first time
  3. the necks aren’t very wide, so (a) fat pens may have trouble and (b) when you do fill for the first time it’s easy to dispace the ink and make a mess on the desk.

Diamine ten swabs

The ten inks I have on test are

  1. Imperial Blue (80ml bottle, my first Diamine ink)
  2. Ancient Copper (freebie that came with my TWSBI mini)
  3. Grey
  4. Graphite
  5. Evergreen
  6. Meadow
  7. China Blue
  8. Sunset
  9. Hope Pink
  10. Red Dragon

The plan is to test these with swabs, writing samples and some improvised paper chromatography. Lamy pens are pretty good for this given the way nibs can be exchanged–the 1.1mm nibs write fairly dry, whereas the broad nib I have is very wet.

Dia nibs



Water drips:

Dia watertest

One problem when deciding amongst hundreds of inks is the accuracy of colour samples on the internet–naturally the colours are affected by the monitor and other factors. That was something I learned the hard way when I bought the Imperial Blue below–some scans make it look much bluer, others properly represent the strong purple in the ink, which is a little too much for me. I’ve since found 3 useful places for ink comparisons:

  • Glenn’s Pens has a big section on ink, with comments on how representative the different samples are. I think the site’s a little out of date since it mentions the representativeness of the colour swatch on the Diamine site. I believe the site must have changed since, as you now get swabs which look closer to the true colour of the ink.
  • The Writing Desk has its own Colourama, and you can even compare up to 3 inks side by side. I don’t really trust the swab of Imperial blue on this one.
  • The Goulet Pen Company has its own Swab Shop which is very similar to the above, except you can compare up to 5 inks and it’s easier to view by ink brand, too.

Review: Imperial Blue


p>Imperial Blue was my first ink from Diamine.

Diamine 1 0004

Pen is a Lamy Al-Star with various nibs–mainly a 1.1mm nib which is fairly dry writing. The colour above looks fairly representitive on my monitor, but YMMV. Slow to dry (20s) like all Diamine inks on this paper (Rhodia dot pad, so fairly glossy). I’m sure it’s better on other papers (e.g. copier, note card, letter paper). Tolerant of a few drips of water, not sure how immersion would affect it.

It really looks purple. Trouble is I find blue-purple boring. I’d prefer red-purple almost to the brown end of the spectrum.

Dia IB chrom

You can see the blue/turquoise that elutes first, and the purple/pink is left behind. That’s been a consistent pain to flush out of several different pens–the pink hangs around long after the blue has been flushed out. I’m trying to limit any ink with pink/red/purple to just a couple of pens.

It looks best on bright white paper (it looks a little strange on cream writing paper). I haven’t written a lot with it lately, and while a whole page looks striking it can be a little intense. For note-taking I prefer something on the grey-brown side.

I wish I’d only bought a small sample; it’s just not for me. Still, it mixes well with a black Skrip ink to make a sort of indigo/denim colour that’s much easier on the eye.

That’s all for now.

Dia fingers