Okay, first, a confession. I’ve gone off fountain pens.
After a ridiculously pen-centric 2018, it all became a bit too much, and Real Life got in the way. I don’t want to dwell on the various ways everything got more complicated, but suffice to say, I decided to wind down my pen activities.
This was also right after I putatively joined United Inkdom and promptly failed to take part in any of the group reviews or, indeed, writing anything at all. Sorry about that.
I still own a bunch of fountain pens, but I only have a few inked up, and most of my inks are in storage boxes. I haven’t bought any new pens or inks for a while, and I unsubscribed from all the blogs, newsletters, Facebook groups et al.
(My camera, my dip pen, my Q-tips and other paraphernalia are also in storage right now, so best you’re getting are some iPhone shots, I’m afraid… Oh, and I think I left my good handwriting in the car, too.)
One of the last activities I did before this mental spring-clean was to vote in the Fountain Pen UK Facebook group’s ink surveys for an exclusive FPUK ink, and write screeds about the various options sampled.
So, when I found out on the grapevine that Diamine had released not one but two FPUK inks, I did feel a little obligated to quickly nip out of retirement and order them. About an hour after placing the order with Pure Pens, I received their email newsletter about their1 exclusive(?) 15th Anniversary ink by Diamine – “Alexandrite”. And, of course, just as with FPUK, they released two versions: a non-shimmer and a shimmer.
Fortunately, I caught the order on time and asked Pure Pens to amend my order, adding in 30ml of the non-shimmer… I won’t bother with the shimmer ink as I don’t share my seven-year-old daughter’s glitter obsession.
True to form, the package arrived Next Business Day.
I’m not sure if this is an exclusive or a UK exclusive to Niche / Pure Pens, but I imagine so. That’d be par for the course with Diamine’s myriad exclusives to various retailers. It’s definitely not branded as a Pure Pens Celtic or English collection ink, although I do think it could probably fit in there.
Being a Red-Sheening Blue it’s a rare treat.2
More accurately, it’s a red-sheening-teal. It’s a nice blue-teal too. It has the crimson red sheen of Pure Pens Saltire, Krishna Moonview, Diamine Skull & Roses, and Organics Studio Nitrogen (among hundreds of others that share this dye chemistry), and sheens fairly strongly on Rhodia. It’s not as “metallic” as Nitrogen, Moonview, Walden and all those, but certainly more than the light hint of crimson sheen in Pure Pens’ own inks.
The base colour, however, is gorgeous. It’s not a million miles from Pure Pens Celtic Sea (although maybe a little tealier?), and appears close to Sailor Jentle Yama-dori, although I must admit I only ever had about 0.25ml of that ink so I’m no expert. As Red-Sheening-Blues have never really been my thing, I don’t have a lot to compare it to.
As it’s evidently outside the sRGB gamut, the photos don’t really represent it well – and to be fair, the photographer did absolutely nothing to try to capture it accurately. It’s got that real parrotty vibe to it; like you made a smoothie out of a mermaid, a butterfly and a tonne of copper salts. It’s like a slightly-bluer Herbin Emeraude de Chivor with the glitter filtered out.
If I was still down the rabbit hole, I’d be ordering the 80ml bottle of this stuff and using it a lot, I reckon.
Now for another confession… while purple is one of my favourite colours, I’ve never really liked purple ink. It’s just hasn’t hit the spot for me. Don’t tell Scribs.
Monboddo’s Hat seems close to Diamine Imperial Purple and Waterman Tender Purple, but a bit plummier, maybe. It sheens gold/yellow fairly well.
I left the FPUK group before the final resolution of which of the ten samples would win so I don’t know what the thing about two inks was, or even which of the samples won. Regardless, they are a bit different. Scribble Purple is a tad darker, bluer than Monboddo’s Hat, but is still in that “Imperial” range, rather than being a lilac or an indigo. It’s closer to Pure Pens Flower of Scotland than Diamine Imperial Purple. It seems to sheen more than Monboddo’s Hat too.
I’m glad the FPUK inks were made, but with my cessation of inky-fingers and ruined clothing/carpets, the results aren’t actually that interesting to me. They are, however, excellent value for what they are, and I’d happily recommend either for someone who wants some good purple ink at a reasonable price. I think I prefer Scribble Purple, but to be honest, it’s not different enough from the other purples I have (and don’t use). Since I bought 80ml of each, I’m not going to be running out of it in a hurry.
And, one thing about the two inks. To be honest, most people aren’t going to notice. They’re not fountain pen nerds, though. Even so, these two inks are similar – they obviously share the same dyes. Chances are, the customers for these inks will break down into three groups:
- Those members of FPUK that buy both diligently. That’s probably the target.
- Those members of FPUK that adamantly buy only one, and bitch about how they never voted for the other.
- Normal people that just wanted some purple ink.
(oh, and 4. Ex-members of FPUK like me that feel a bit bad that they didn’t stick around for the ink they pledged to buy back when the idea was mooted)
Forgetting that these are special edition inks for a closed user group, I don’t think there’s much justification for releasing a pair of inks this similar at the same time to the same market. However, that’s not really the point, is it?
[In fact, the title of this blog post is probably inaccurate. Yes, they’re exclusive to Diamine, in the same way that the Big Mac is exclusive to McDonald’s. The FPUK inks are more “special editions”, or perhaps “commissioned by”; the Alexandrite, again… who knows what best to call it.]
The real winner for me was the Alexandrite. I haven’t had a really good play with it, but it seems much like other Diamine exclusives to be a really good, saturated, dazzling ink, without the bad behaviour of things like O.S. Walden and Nitrogen – otherwise known as The Destroyer of Carpets. Diamine knows how to sheen, but they’re smart enough keep it at 10 rather than 11, and deliver a reasonable, practical ink.