There’s only one way to truly show off shimmer/sparkle/pearlescent inks and that’s with video. I apologize for the 25-minute long video but its not my fault that deAtramentis decided to release 40 colors in their new line of Pearlescent inks. There’s ten different colors of ink on four different sparkle/pearlescent bases. The ten colors are whisky brown, amber yellow, camellia, magenta red, heliogreen, brilliant violet, cyan blue, indian blue, columbia blue, and velvet black. Each color has been released with a gold pearlescent, silver pearlescent, copper pearlescent and bronze pearlescent base. So far.
I didn’t have all 40 of the deAtramentis samples, only about 26 of them but that’s still a serious sampling that will give you a good idea of what these inks colors look like across the bases. I was missing a lot of the copper and bronze versions unfortunately which are the most unique aspects of the deAtramentis line.
The best way to compare these colors is to show them side-by-side with Diamine Shimmer and J. Herbin 1670 colors. I was missing a few of the Diamine Shimmer ink samples as well but again, I feel like I was able to get a pretty close comparison to the inks I had from deAtramentis. I’m amazed at how many sparkle inks are on the market now.
From the blue range, you can see that Diamine Blue Lightning and deAtramentis Cyan Blue Silver are very similar. Both are a similar blue ink base with silver metallic flake. The deAtramentis has more of a reddish/magenta sheen. The Cyan Blue Gold loses the sheen because the gold flecks overpower the ink. I didn’t have the copper or bronze flecked versions of this color so I’m not sure if you’d lose the sheen on this color with those inks but its one of the more interesting ink colors because of the noticeable sheen.
J. Herbin’s Bleu Ocean stands apart in the blues for being noticeably more rich but I have a bottle from an early release of the color and it’s one of the runniest of the J. Herbin inks.
Diamine Shimmering Seas and deAtramentis Indian Blue Gold are very similar both being a blue-black with gold flecks. deAtramentis appears to have a bit more concentration of gold though. Diamine Blue Pearl and deAtramentis Columbia Blue Silver are also quite similar but I think Diamine’s version has a bit more visual interest. It got a deep burgundy sheen in the swatch and lots of sparkle in the writing sample.
In the magenta and purple range, deAtramentis Brilliant Violet with the silver and gold fleck I did not have a direct comparison though I suspect that Diamine Lilac Satin would be a close match for the Brilliant Violet Silver. The deAtramentis Magenta Red Silver and Diamine Magenta Flash are similar magenta inks with a silver fleck but the ink colors are slightly different. The Diamine ink base is a warmer pink, the deAtramentis a bit cooler purple/magenta. The Magenta Red Gold looks interesting in the swab swatch but the flecks had already started to settle in the vial when I started to do the lettering so some of the sparkle was already lost. I think the Magenta Red would be most interesting with the copper or bronze fleck.
Diamine Night Sky and deAtramentis Velvet Black Silver are both black ink bases with silver sparkle. Diamine Sparkling Shadow, deAtramentis Velvet Black Gold and J. Herbin Stormy Grey are all basically black/dark grey with gold flecks. Stormy Grey says its grey but always looks darker to me and Sparkling Shadow looks more grey. Diamine Purple Pazzaz is supposed to be purple but is very dark to me. Diamine has a brown in its shimmer line called Caramel Sparkle but I didn’t have a sample. I still think it wouldn’t hold a candle to J. Herbin’s Caroube de Chypre which has a green sheen as well as the gold sparkle on a warm brown ink.
Diamine Firestorm and deAtramentis Camellia (which is mislabelled on all the swatches) Red Silver are pretty close colors. Both are red ink bases with a silver fleck. To the right is the Camellia base ink with the copper fleck, I mislabelled the sample swatch. The copper adds more of an orangey tone to the color which makes it more unusual. The bronze fleck on the Camellia reflects a ton of light and looks like a light gold and pretty much drowns out the color. Actually, with the Camellia Red on the swatches, the sparkle really overpowered the ink color. In the writing its a little less noticeable except in the bronze. On close inspection, I think Diamine Firestorm Red and Pink Glitz are the same ink base but Firestorm uses the silver fleck and Pink Glitz uses the gold fleck. Red Lustre is a deeper red with gold fleck best suited for Valentine’s, love letters and Christmas cards.
Diamine Brandy Dazzle is still an outstanding color. Since I’ve been watching Westworld lately (which is a bit of a mind-bending, horrific, albeit beautiful-in-its-own-way tv series) I envision some sort of parchment correspondence written in this color with the gold dust sparkle. Red Lustre also reminds me of the landscape with the sunset dappling the mesas. Sorry for the tangent.
The Amber Yellows were the most disappointing. In general yellows are some of the hardest inks colors to do in the first place and, as you can see, these came out as badly as you might have expected. The four on the far left are the only ones worth talking about. The Whisky Browns from daAtramentis are not brown as much as they are actually amber. I think the Whisky Brown Copper is the most successful and probably of all the deAtramentis Pearlescent inks the one that will probably sell the best. The Whisky Brown Gold or Bronze bringing in a close second. Though next to Diamine Golden Sands, I think the Whisky Brown Bronze in the more interesting after the Copper.
I saved the best for last. I only had samples of the deAtramentis Heliogreen in Silver and Gold. I’d be curious if the copper or bronze base would be a curse or a blessing to the kelly green ink base. The green is very “Christmasy” in my opinion so if you have plans to address your holiday cards or packages, this might be a good candidate. Diamine’s Magical Forest has a deeper pine green cast with a silver fleck and definitely has a more woodland vibe. Diamine also offers a Golden Oasis which is a lime green ink with a gold fleck but I did not have a sample of that, hard as that might be to believe.
I know it might seem odd to include J. Herbin Rouge Hematite in the green category but my version (an earlier bottling) has a very distinct green beetle-shell sheen. It is the most unusual of all the “sparkle” inks although my version does not really sparkle (YMMV). I know that Rouge Hematite has been reformulated a couple times and I’m not sure where the formulation has landed or if there’s any way to tell depending on who you purchase from what version you might be getting. But I think from perusing a few web sites it looks like the results are pretty consistent to what I am showing. It is the first of the “shimmer” inks and it still remains the most interesting.
J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor is probably the most popular of all the shimmer inks and with good reason. It sheens like nobody’s business from a gorgeous dark turquoise teal blue to a magenta red then it pools gold fleck. Combine all of these factors and it creates a wonderful patina effect that almost makes a rainbow. Diamine Enchanted Ocean is a dark blue ink with silver shimmer which I did not have a swatch might come close to Emerald of Chivor but I’ve never heard anyone suggest it was much of a rival.
I still find Diamine inks to be consistently more dense. Other people might describe this as “drier” but I think of it as more viscous. It stays up on the page better. deAtramentis inks always seem more watery. And J. Herbin even more watery still. I would not use the term “wetter” because I feel that implies slicker. Like the case with my bottle (YMMV) of Bleu Ocean, it’s just watery. It tends to feather and bloop and behave as if I left water in my pen, nib or feed after cleaning my pen rather than an ink that was slick, lubricated or oily in consistency. If that makes sense? When I think of an ink being “dry” I think of it being chalky or being able to feel the micro-particles of pigment that make up the ink color. I would not say that about any of these inks, especially not Diamine. It has a smooth feel when writing, even in a dip nib and even with the metallic flakes.
So, after my lengthy explanation, I’m inclined to prefer the Diamine Shimmertastic inks for use over the other two brands. The particles of sparkle blend faster and more readily. Diamine offers a large but manageable range of colors.
I think 40+ metallic inks is way too many for deAtramentis to release at one time. I think that deAtramentis, in general, has a hard time keeping up with their massive ink inventory and have not been very good about releasing, promoting and restocking their existing colors. I also think they are a little late to the metallic ink party. I think the copper and bronze metallics is where they are doing something interesting but they should have focused their attention there. They should have done a few really great colors and done them well rather than flooding the market with tons of colors, some of which are really iffy. They made it really hard for anyone to know which colors to buy on which base and probably equally challenging for shops to figure out which colors to order. I suspect that there will be a few bottles of one or two of the more disappointing colors lingering on shop shelves and at pen shows for years to come.
So, if I were to recommend a few shimmer/pearl/sparkle inks to purchase or sample here’s my short list:
- deAtramentis Pearlescent Whisky Brown Copper
- deAtramentis Pearlescent Cyan Blue Silver
- J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor
- J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite
- J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre
- Diamine Shimmertastic Brandy Dazzle
- Diamine Shimmertastic Blue Pearl
- Diamine Shimmertastic Sparkling Shadow
- Diamine Shimmertastic Red Lustre