Pelikan is a well-established name in the fountain pen world. It may well be one of the largest brands in Europe still making fine writing instruments. They offer quite an extensive range of supplies, from very simple and affordable pens for children to the best fountain pens in the world and pretty much everything in between. There’s undoubtedly quite some tradition behind the brand. After all it operates since 1838. Interestingly enough, Pelikan was founded by a chemist by the name of Carl Hornemann, and so it seems they originally started as an ink company. The company expanded and then expanded some more throughout the years, decades, centuries even. If you wish you can browse through Pelikan’s history on their website.
As to their current offerings, Pelikan makes two lines of inks. There’s their basic 4001 ink line, which in itself provides a selection of high quality inks of good value. The inks are packed in 30 ml bottles that are simple in design and functionality. Then there’s their exclusive “Edelstein” line of inks. The name, of course, is in German and means “Gemstone”. Their inks then are named after a variety of gemstones, such as Onyx, Aquamarine, Jade, Ruby, etc. Tanzanite is also one of them and it is the ink I’m going to review today.
Tanzanite gemstone is what’s called “Pleochroic” stone. If you google “Tanzanite pleochroism” you should be able to find some fascinating images and see that a mere change of the angle shifts the color of the stone significantly. I can’t tell whether Pelikan’s chemists recognized this quality when designing the ink and intentionally tried to reproduce it but the ink seems to honor this fascinating quality of the gemstone. The ink mimics this by a subtle wet-to-dry hue shift from a warm, rich blue to a much more cool and muted blue-black. If you’ve read some of my previous reviews, you know how I feel about hue shift. I adore this ink. The hue shift is not as prominent in a pen but if you put a direct swach of ink on the page, wait for it to dry and then do one just next to it, you’ll clearly see how much difference there is.
On the ink cards above the color seems more vibrant and warmer than what it is in real life. I use calibrated studio lighting for my photography and it does tend to make things look just a bit more pretty than they are in your everyday lighting conditions. Still though the ink is very nice and I enjoy the color quite a bit.
You can also notice that the ink exhibits some sheen. Certainly there’s more in wetter pens and applications but it is there. The ink shades subtly, which means the variation between light and dark. It is not as crazy as some other inks but it is there and it is very nice.
Bottle Design and Functionality
Usually one of the main selling points of the Edelstein inks seems to be the presentation, the thick glass fancy inkwell and the luxury box. For me personally, however, the bottle design doesn’t do much. It is pretty but I just don’t find it exceptionally attractive. It also lacks practicality. Although the opening is wide enough to accommodate any pen, the depth is not great. Filling my Pelikan M1000 from the bottle is no easy feat. Now that I only have around a third of the bottle left I practically can’t do it. I can always transfer the ink into a smaller container but that’s beside the point, I think. The quality of the bottle and cap are undoubtedly exceptional. This is a high-end product and when it sits on your desk next to your Souverän pen, it just fits. There are no mistakes here.
The bottle holds 50 ml of ink. It comes with a premium price tag but I don’t find it overpriced at all. Well, it could be argued that all fountain pen ink is overpriced. And there’s something in that, certainly. But when compared to other luxury brands of ink out there, Edelstein line is not that pricey. A bottle of Tanzanite can be purchased for just below 14€ as of writing this review. There are certainly some inks that are much more expensive (Caran d’Ache comes to mind at 29€ for 50ml) as well as less expensive but overall I find this to be a very reasonable price for what you get and I wouldn’t mind using it on a daily basis.
Using the Ink
I don’t sketch very much with the ink. I primarily use it for regular writing. Not that it’s not a great ink for sketching, I just like writing with it so much that I don’t want to use it up in my sketchbook too quickly.
I used Tanzanite on pretty much all possible paper surfaces. And it behaves exceptionally well. Even on very plain office paper the ink is more than usable. There’s very little bleed and that only with wet and broad nibs. And that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy writing with the ink. There’s no need to watch out for the paper I’m using. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect (though it’s very close). I didn’t encounter a paper that would render it unusable. Higher quality paper, of course, shows off the visual qualities of the ink much more, such as the wonderful hue shift. But even on cheap paper the ink isn’t necessarily boring or uninteresting. It is more flat certainly but I still get some shading even on a very horrendous recycled paper with this ink.
List of Properties and Behavior
The dye load in the Tanzanite seems to be perfect. The color is rich enough without being overly concentrated. The composition seems to be really well balanced.
Hue and Tonal Value
A muted cool blue black of dark middle value. There is some tonal variation from light to dark but nothing extreme. Subtle but clearly present and pleasant. In the right nib (Parallel or a broad Italic) to paper combination the shading shows off beautifully.
Overall Flow Properties and Behavior
The ink flows well in all pens. I heard that Pelikan inks are on the dry side. And, honestly, that’s the reason why I waited years to get a bottle of their ink. So unless Tanzanite is an exception to the rule, I find little truth in that statement. It is on the wet side and well lubricated. I was amazed at how well the ink behaved when I first put it into one of my pens.
Water Resistance and Permanence
Surprisingly enough, the ink is also fairly water resistant. I was very surprised at this. I expected the ink to run upon contact with water. And it seems it does at first, because the warm blue dye component washes off, but if you dry the page you’ll find that there’s a distinct dark grayish blue left behind. It is also perfectly legible. Does this ink nothing wrong?
Drying Times and Dry Smear
Drying times are very good. It is a wetter ink and more lubricated but despite the fact it dries fairly quickly.
The ink, I am happy to say, doesn’t smear after drying. Even in the wettest of pens I didn’t experience the infamous dry smear at all.
There is a bit of a red sheen to the ink but it can only be obtained by an optimal configuration of pen and paper or in a heavy swatch. I’ve seen it sheen in writing, though I use very wet pens.
The ink exhibits a pronounced wet-to-dry hue shift. The effect is very pleasing as the color changes from cool violet to a cool blue.
Despite its partial water resistance the ink is very easy to clean from a pen and doesn’t stick to the material of the pen or the nib.
Well, the Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite simply seems to be the perfect blue black ink. I am really not overly enthusiastic though. I’ve handled my share of inks. I honestly think I wouldn’t need any other blue black, ever. It is that good. The ink just does everything well. It behaves well, shades, sheens a bit, is water resistant and flows really well. What more is there to an ink?
Some Comparable Inks
There are some comparable inks out there among which I have experience with the following:
- Pelikan 4001 Blue Black: An excellent ink with partial Iron Gall component. Well behaved and somewhat permanent.
- Lamy Blue Black: Lamy inks are very good overall. I don’t find them as well behaved as Tanzanite, though the color is nice, exhibits some shading as well as sheen. Excellent bottle design in my opinion.
- Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue: Very similar in color to Tanzanite, Magnetic Blue is slightly cooler and more demanding on paper quality. Still a nice ink. Cost is far exceeding Tanzanite though.
- Diamine Denim: A more distinctly blue than any other from this selection, Denim is a nice ink from Diamine. It is wet and flows well.
- Rohrer & Klingner “Iron Gall” Salix: A modern Iron Gall formulation. Dry ink, I don’t enjoy using that much but it’s a good permanent alternative.