As a fountain pen user, you might be looking for a way to add just a bit more character to your writing. While you have different types of nibs and many different colors of ink to choose from, there are two more things you might want to consider… sheen and shimmer. Fountain pen inks can have sheen, shimmer, neither or even both. In this article I want to explain what they are and talk about the difference between sheen and shimmer in fountain pen ink.
Choosing and ink that has sheen or shimmer is a very personal decision.
What is sheen?
Sheen is currently one of the most desirable aspects an ink can have. People go crazy over new inks that have huge amounts of sheen that shows itself easily. So what’s the fuss all about?
For this discussion, the most important thing to know about sheen is that it is a chemical property of ink. It occurs when chemical compounds in ink dyes are not absorbed into paper and remain on the surface. Sheen will be the most intense where the ink was the thickest on the paper. This means that wet pens and slow-absorbing paper are very important in getting the most (or any) sheen out of an ink.
What is shimmer?
Shimmer is another property of ink. While sheen is a chemical property of ink that is related to the dyes, shimmer is pigment that has been added to the ink… basically glitter. This shimmer makes inks sparkle once they dry on paper. While sheen requires specific pens and paper to appear, shimmer will appear regardless of which pen or paper is used.
One concern that many people have about shimmer is that it has the potential to clog pens. Since there are actually particles in the ink, there is a chance that they can eventually clog a pen’s feed. Because of this, it is usually recommended that shimmer inks not be continuously used in pens. Instead, best practice would be to fully flush a pen after using shimmer ink and not let it sit for days inside of a pen.
Now that you know the difference between sheen and shimmer, which is better?
Which is the better ink property between sheen and shimmer? It really depends on how you want your writing to look. Sheen is unpredictable, only appears with particular inks, pens and papers and isn’t always very obvious. In spite of all that, sheen has enchanted the world of fountain pen users who seem to love the mystery and challenge that sheen can present. On the other hand, shimmer always works and can look really neat, but sparkly words aren’t for everyone. I have used sheening inks that look amazing, and I’ve used some that you can’t see any sheen in. I’ve used shimmer inks and like the look, but don’t want to use them on a regular basis. Also, I should add that I have kept shimmer inks in a few pens for days at a time and have not experienced any clogging or other ill effects.Of course, you don’t always have to choose one or the other. Some shimmer inks will actually sheen and some inks with a strong sheen have a bit of added shimmer. For example, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor 1670 is widely regarded as an ink with beautiful sheen, but it also includes just a bit of shimmer (even though it’s not sold as a shimmer ink). If you’re not interested in either of these, you can always use inks that have neither sheen or shimmer.
I had no idea that there was a difference between sheen and shimmer but after reading your post, I think that I prefer shimmer. My husband also collects fountain pens 🙂
You’ll have to buy him some shimmer ink. If he doesn’t like it, you can use it! 🙂
I think the current trend is brush lettering pens but fountain pens can never really go out of style! I mean they are simply so beautiful and elegant. I thin I really like the sheen effect.
Thanks for the info!
Brush letting is definitely in right now… my wife is learning how to do it! It’s true, though, that fountain pens will never really go out of style. Thanks for reading!
I have to admit, I’m particular about my pens! Probably because I’m particular about my writing 😉 I love the shimmer.
Pens are a very serious thing! 😉 I hope there’s more shimmer in your writing from now on!
Thanks, I needed that. Sheen is right for me & that’s it.
You’re welcome Lance. Sheen is very popular, so you have some great options!
I am in love with that J Herbin Emerald sheen & shimmer mix. I love the holographic look it lends. I’ve been getting more and more into hand-writing (a refreshing change from this digital era!) & that holographic look is right up my alley. I’ll def look into this & this is something I would of never have even known of if it wasn’t for your blog! xx Shannon || http://www.champagneatshannons.com
It is a beautiful ink! It will definitely make writing by hand a little more enjoyable. Thanks for reading!
I much prefer sheen, although give me a saturated ink with some shading any day. Thanks for the info on the difference between the two.
You’re welcome, Jenn. Both give some great character to writing, so it’s hard to go wrong with either!
I love my diamine inks but i think you may have convinced me to give sheen a try
Bryony, there are some Diamine inks with sheen, so you can get the best of both worlds! For example, Diamine Majestic Blue is known to be a strong sheening ink. Have fun!
Thanks for the detailed information. I haven’t tried any shimmering inks yet, and am a bit concerned as to which pens to put them in. I have ordered some from a place and will finally get to try Diamine Golden Sands.
The Golden Sands looks like a great ink. I have used shimmer inks in my Lamys with no issues. I specifically used those pens because I could see how much shimmer was left behind and remove the nib if I needed to clean the feed. If you use them in a pen that you can clean with a bulb filler so you can force water through everything, I think you should be fine.
#TeamSheen especially when the sheen is a radically different color that the ink.
That always makes writing more fun, right? I’m a big fan of a good blue with red sheen like Robert Oster Fire and Ice.
Regular ink are my favourite, no sheen no shimmer.
I also have many favorite inks that don’t have any sheen or shimmer. Sometimes it’s nice to just have regular ink!
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