using shimmer ink in fountain pens glitter

Using Shimmer Ink In Fountain Pens

John BosleyFountain Pen Ink 28 Comments

If you’ve ever wondered if using a shimmering ink will clog your fountain pen, you’re not alone. While many people love the look of shimmering inks and enjoy the extra dimension that it adds to their writing, there is always the fear that the particles of shimmer will clog the feed of their fountain pen. Today I want to tell you about my experience with shimmering inks and show you a few photos to let you see exactly what’s going on inside of your pen.

Please note: This post is based purely on my own personal experience. I am sure that other people have had very different experiences while using shimmer ink. With that being said, never use any ink in your fountain pen that you are not comfortable with.

What Is Shimmering Ink?

First off, you should know what a shimmering ink is. Basically, shimmer is tiny particles of shiny material that is added to ink… or, in other words, glitter. Of course, it’s not actually glitter, as those particles are too large, but that’s the easiest way to think of it. Keep in mind, shimmer is different from sheen. Sheen is a chemical property of ink while shimmer is something that is added to ink.

You can see how fears of clogging are valid. Adding anything solid to a fountain pen ink sounds like a pretty bad idea, yet it is more prevalent than ever. Multiple popular ink manufactures now have shimmer options in their ink lineup. Is this something you should fear or are people just being too careful with their fountain pens?

Images Of Shimmer

I think one of the best ways to discuss shimmer is by showing images. First off, let’s take a look at what writing with shimmer ink looks like.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens j herbin amtthyste de l'oural

The light is hitting this writing just right and the shimmer really stands out.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens shimmer purple

This is a different view of the same writing sample. You can see the silver sparkles, which are shimmer.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens emerald of chivor

This is a different shimmer ink, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor. The ink is green with red sheen. The shimmer is gold.

Next, let’s take a look at what shimmer looks like in an ink bottle. You’ll see that it all settles to the bottom of the bottle, which means you need to shake up shimmer ink before filling a pen.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens j herbin

Here’s a side view of a bottle of Emerald of Chivor. You can see the shimmer at the bottom as a light sediment.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens settled shimmer

The bottom of the bottle shows how much shimmer has settled out of the ink.

Here’s the part that should be really interesting. What does shimmer ink look like in a fountain pen? I filled my TWSBI ECO-T with some Emerald of Chivor for the following images:

using shimmer ink in fountain pens twsbi eco

In this image you can see how much shimmer is in the feed of this pen.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens twsbi

Here is another view of the feed with lots of shimmer in it.

One side effect of using shimmer ink in a pen is that particles of shimmer may remain in your pen and show up in your writing after cleaning, even if your pen is not filled with shimmer ink.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens gold shimmer

This freshly cleaned pen still has bits of shimmer (gold flecks) that did not come out.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens lamy converter

This Lamy converter has probably been used and cleaned 5 times since I used shimmer ink in it, but it still has traces of shimmer stuck in it.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens pelikan blue black

After cleaning the TWSBI you saw earlier in this post, I filled it with Pelikan Blue-Black, which does not have any shimmer in it. You can see a few particles of shimmer in this writing sample.

My Experience With Shimmer Ink

So does shimmer ink clog fountain pens? It depends on many different factors. The two main factors are likely going to be the size of nib your pen has and what your pen use and pen hygiene is like. Personally, I’ve never experienced any clogging issues with shimmer inks. This may be due to the fact that I typically use Medium and Broad nibs, which have higher ink flow and larger channels for the shimmer particles to move through. I also try to use any pen that I fill with shimmer ink on a regular basis (at least once a day) so that the ink doesn’t dry up in the nib or feed.

On the other hand, my wife has a Platinum Preppy with an 03 Fine nib that she absolutely loves (it’s Hello Kitty themed). I filled it with some shimmer ink (J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey) and the nib did clog once or twice, which had never happened with other inks. A quick wipe with a damp paper towel immediately fixed the problem, so I’m not sure if the culprit was dry ink or shimmer or just a cheap pen. Still, it has been essentially trouble-free. Would it have happened if the nib was larger? What about a Fine nib in a more expensive pen? I’m not sure, but this example stood out to me since I never use Fine nibs and she experienced a problem with it.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens hello kitty preppy

The feed in my wife’s Platinum Preppy is full of shimmer particles.

I wanted to try another pen with an even finer nib to see what would happen. I have a Wing Sung 3008 with an EF nib, so I filled it with J. Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l’Oural. After using it for almost two weeks, I have yet to encounter any issues with it. It flows just fine and is a pleasure to write with. In my opinion, that’s saying a lot for a $4 Chinese pen filled with shimmer ink.

using shimmer ink in fountain pens wing sung

This Wing Sung 3008 is filled with shimmery purple ink!

Another dimension is which brand of ink you use. The shimmer inks that I mainly use are J. Herbin’s 1670 and 1798 line, which have never given me trouble. Would Diamine, PenBBS or Robert Oster inks perform differently? It’s possible.

At the end of the day, I don’t think that fountain pen ink manufacturers would knowingly put out inks that are dangerous to use in fountain pens. That doesn’t mean that you won’t experience issues with shimmer ink. You may very well experience clogging or other issues, but you might also have an enjoyable and trouble-free writing experience. If you do want to use shimmer inks, my suggestion is to use them in a pen that can be disassembled and cleaned if necessary. I’d also suggest that, unless you eventually want all of your writing to have a bit of shimmer, you use them in only a few of your pens.

Comments 28

  1. John, I’ve ordered YUnnuopromi 25ml Non-Carbon Glitter Fountain Pen Ink, It was a bargain on Amazon. It hasn’t arrived yet. After reading this article I think I’ll try it in a WS 3008. I have a dozen of them. Thanks for the warning.

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      From what I can tell, the WS 3008 should handle shimmer ink very well, but I haven’t tried that specific brand. At least they’ll be a good test and if you don’t have any issues in those pens you can move to another pen if you want. Enjoy!

  2. Diamine shimmer inks have generally behaved well for me (I did try them in a Platinum Preppy eyedropper conversion and it wouldn’t write at all) but I would advise staying far, far away from De Atramentis shimmer inks. The shimmer particles seem to be slightly larger than those in Diamine, and they clogged my TWSBI Eco broad nib constantly.

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      1. Interestingly enough, I’ve actually had problems with my Vac mini clogging with a Medium nib on shimmer inks. I bought it originally intending to use de Atramentis Columbia Gold in it but was never able to get it to work consistently, with it clogging multiple times a day usually. I cleaned it and refilled it several times before giving up and re-inking it with de Atramentis Document Black and never had a problem after that. Recently, however, I bought a bottle of Diamine Golden Ivy to see if it worked in the Vac mini where the dA Columbia Gold failed. No dice. Had the exact same issue of shimmer buildup under the nib at the tip of the feed. If anyone has a suggestion I’d love to hear it, especially since my Diamond 580AL has been almost problem-free since the day I bought it and loaded it with Diamine Firefly.

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          How strange that one type of TWSBI doesn’t work with shimmer inks while your other one does. I don’t know enough about them to know if the feed is the same for both pens or not, but maybe it’s pen-dependent and every once in a while a pen just doesn’t like shimmer?

    2. I have had the completely opposite experience. Diamine shimmers have given me trouble while all De Atramentis inks I have ever tried have performed flawlessly!

  3. I personally had some problems with my Diamine Golden Oasis I picked up. It’s a bit of a drier ink, so the FPR Ultraflex pen I bought it for it doesn’t really work well with. It also kind of half-clogs my Pilot Prera (I think due to Pilot feeds having smaller channels than most?)

    But the bigger thing about it that I think stands out, is the shimmer dust is very *heavy*. It sinks to the bottom of the bottle or bottom of the pen converter so fast! After a bit, the shimmer is mostly stuck and it’s not consistent in the lines. I’ve heard Emerald of Chivor from J Herbin is better, but for me shimmer has kind of been a disappointment. (I do plan to try some EoC some day)

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      I’ve heard of other people having issues with Diamine as well. I haven’t tried it for that reason, so can’t comment on my experiences. I’m a huge fan of Emerald of Chivor and wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to anyone. Of course, I typically don’t use it in my vintage pens since they’re harder to clean, but use it in all of my modern pens with wild abandon!

      1. I just received a Pelikan m1000 with a broad nib, and a bottle of Emeraude de Chivor, copied name from box. Do you have any concern using the ink in this pen? If this Pelikan wasn’t so expensive I wouldn’t hesitate, but it is, and I do. Seeking some positive assurance but understanding that a guaranty is not possible.

        Good closeups, and very good information.. By the way, I just bought a Voigtlander 17.5mm f/09.5 for my GH5, I think I’ll take a few closeups of my nib, that’s a writing sample I intend to take with the pen, and nib.

        I’m not a photographer of any note, a novice. I’m perhaps, in my opinion, better with the pen than the lens.


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          Congrats on the great pen and ink, Manuel! I wouldn’t worry about using that ink in a Pelikan or really any modern pen that can be somewhat disassembled for that matter. Since the Pelikan has a removable nib unit, you can easily clean it if it were to somehow get clogged up. I use EoC all the time in a Sailor Pro Gear and have never had any issues.

          One thing to make sure to do is gently agitate the ink before you fill a pen with it so that the shimmer is evenly distributed in the liquid and not sitting on the bottom where you can suck in a lot of it when you fill your pen.

          It’s a lot of fun taking macro photos of nibs, but it’s definitely harder than it looks. Getting a good angle and figuring out where to focus can be tricky! Have fun with it.

  4. I got the sample kits from Goulet of the De Atramentis copper line, the Diamine shimmer line, and the J.Herbin shimmers. So far trying all of these out, Diamine has been the most temperamental but not to the point of being a deal breaker. Regarding pens, my Pilot Metro and Kakuno in EF and F have not been good with the shimmers. They clog up completely or dry out if not used for a day. My Medium Kakuno has been fine. My Konrad has been ok with shimmers and I have had various shimmers in all sizes of the Ecos and even the EF just rocks and works without any hiccups. I currently have Diamine Night Sky in my EF Eco, love that ink! It’s a true deep black, but the sparkles give it a nice settle bit of spunk.

    From the J.Herbin line I like Emerald the most. It has a wonderful combination of shimmer and sheen. The others are nice (Rouge Hematite would be my 2nd fave) but when compared to the shimmers from Diamine and De Atramentis, I think the other two brands are significantly nicer with their inks being richer in color and in sparkles. De Atramentis Cyan Blue Copper is absolutely spectacular. I do find the particles are perhaps a bit on the heavier side and you need to give the pen a quick tilt back and forth if you want to see the sparkles come out consistently but even when they don’t the base ink itself is a stunning electric light blue. The sparkles just take up a notch. Black Velvet Copper, I did not want to switch away from it after trying it. The Whisky Copper is a gorgeous brownish yellow that looks like gold foil and is just dark enough to be easy to read. Diamine Purple Pazzazz is stunning coming out of any pen with decent flow though I did not like it in my Lamy Safari but that pen is very stingy with it’s flow and makes most inks look lighter and washed out. Firefly is an amazing red and Moon Dust is a very fun true silver with multicolor sparkles.

    When I’m cleaning a pen after using a shimmer ink, I always take it fully apart and scrub the feed with a toothbrush. The shimmers cling to the feed too much to be flushed away with water even with soaking (which takes longer).

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  5. I think I’ll stick to using shimmer ink with my glass pens or Speedball calligraphy nibs. Build-up in the pen feed from ongoing use is just too much of a risk to me.

    I think the only pen I’d risk it in would be an old Sheaffer school pen. They’re fine with old inks that may have sediment and don’t clog easily. Also easy to clean. I use a lot of vintage pens and don’t want to risk the others.

    From the sound of it, the shimmer particles aren’t dissolveable in water/ink, so it’s just too much like using waterproof ink in a fountain pen.

  6. I find that the shimmer inks block my all 3 of my
    TWSBI pens, 1 Eco and 2 Go’s. The Eco is a fine nib but the feeds are the same for all 3 pens. The Go’s are 1.1 stubs so very broad and they still clog them after even a short while in the pen. In fact, it’s completely broken 1 TWSBI Go, the particulate got really trapped in the feed, it was the Diamine Lightning Blue. I’ve taken the pen apart a few times to clean but the ink seems to have rendered the feed “stuck” in the casing. In trying to get it out I damaged the fins.

    I find the best performers for Shimmers (the Diamine ones at least) are Faber Essentio & Ambition both in medium. I don’t think the fins on the TWSBI feeds can cope with the shimmers in Diamine ink. I tend to use the Jacques Herbin in those too.

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      Kelly, that’s too bad! I’ve used J. Herbin shimmer inks in my TWSBI Eco with no problems, but can imagine that each pen may perform slightly differently. Have you ever tried using an ultrasonic cleaner on your feed to get the trapped shimmer out? I imagine that should help quite a bit.

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  7. It’s been a long time since this was posted and I’m late to the party. I’ve just recently gotten back into fountain pens and have started trying to experiment with shimmer inks. I tried De Atramentis Magenta Red Copper in a Lamy Safari with a broad nib. I realized after reading this posting that I likely did not use it regularly enough, but I would be curious to know what pen(s) you’ve had good success with using the De Atramentis shimmer inks in?

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      I can’t say that I’ve actually tried any of the De Atramentis shimmer inks yet, but I hope that they work great for you and bring you a lot of writing pleasure!

  8. After seeing Marta’s detailed post, I’m excited to try out shimmer in my TWSBI Eco. I have been really enjoying that pen with an EF and regular ink, a pleasantly surprising experience in a very affordable pen. I hadn’t planned to use shimmer in it expecting that the fine nib would clog more easily, but I think I’ll give it a try now!

  9. I’ve been trying Emeraude de Chivor on my Lamy Safari with Medium nib, and haven’t got any success with the shimmer. I’m sure the particles got into the converter, but it just won’t come out on writing. 99,9% of the time the shimmer doesn’t come out. And when it does, it dumps a TON of shimmer onto 3-4 words before going back to zero. My experience has been wildly unpredictable and inconsistent. The same pen can bring consistent shimmer with Diamine Pink Champagne (with some shaking and converter advance), but just won’t do it with the EoC 🙁 Do you have any troubleshooting tips, John?

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      That is really strange, William. I don’t have any great advice for you, as I’ve never had this experience with EoC, but have a few suggestions that may be worth a try. First, have you taken off the nib to make sure the channel isn’t clogged when you’re using it? Lamy nibs slide right off, so this is a very quick and easy thing to check. Second, have you tried to clean out the entire grip section with a sonic cleaner? It doesn’t make sense that some inks would show shimmer and others wouldn’t, but maybe something is clogged up in there and a good cleaning will get it sorted out. I hope you’re able to get it figured out and can enjoy that pen/ink combo!

  10. I just bought Jacques herbin’s Emerald of Chivor and am using it in my TWISBI and my Moonman S5. This post just put my fears to rest as i clean out my pens every time they need a refill. Thank you so much!!

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