Let’s just say that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Blackwing Pearl from Palomino since I saw the announcement posts over on Timberlines. The Pearl is described as a pencil that is between the “firm and smooth” of the Palomino Blackwing 602 and the “soft and smooth” of the original Palomino Blackwing — “balanced and smooth” is the description to keep with the tradition of not having an actual hardness number associated with the line.
The Pearl is designed to hit a sweet spot between the other two, a softer lead like the original Palomino Blackwing but with the smoothness of the 602.
I confess that I originally fell in love with the idea of the Blackwings, new or vintage, because of the large, flat eraser and its promises of “Half the pressure, twice the speed”. As I learn more about pencil grades, construction and materials, I have come to appreciate the quality and thought that has been put into the Blackwing line. When the rest of the American writing tool market is focused on making tools cheaper and cheaper, the quality of the Blackwings really shines.
The paint and the foil stamping are done very well. It feels like a good quality pencil — good looks, good materials, and good lead.
The looks of the Pearl are different than the other two pencils in the line. The Pearl is an iridescent white pencil with a black rubber eraser on its fancy, oversized wood-clinched cap. It looks like the favorite middle sister between her two brothers.
I also purchased one of the Palomino-branded, KUM long point sharpener. It features two sharpeners in one case. One side sharpens the wood to a long length and the other sharpens the point. Its a great, portable tool for getting a long point, similar to my desk-mounted Apsco crank sharpener (used on the Pearl in the first photo). The sharpener doesn’t hold a lot of shavings so it needs to be emptied almost every time its used but if you need to carry a sharpener, this is a good option for long points.
Here’s what the point looks like with the long point sharpener.
In writing tests, the Pearl wrote silky smooth. The graphite left a dark line. It was a little smudgy but that can be good for sketching. The eraser is adequate but the pencil marks erased completely with the white Staedtler mars plastic eraser (the gold standard for erasers).
Of course, I couldn’t resist swapping the erasers out on the Blackwings. I like the Pearl with the green eraser and the 602 with the classic pink. Neither works as well as my Staedtler plastic erasers but I like the looks and carry the Staedtler for real eraser emergencies.
If you’re looking for a softer pencil, good for writing or sketching interchangeably, the Pearl is a good option. I love the color of the paint on the Pearls and it does write super smoothly but I think I prefer the slightly harder 602s. I can go a bit longer between sharpenings with the 602s.
Check out Pencil Revolution’s thorough review of the Blackwing Pearl too.