Ink Review: DeAtramentis Pearlescent Inks

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.

deArtramentis Pearlescent inks

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.

Purple Sparkle Inks

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.

diamine shimmer inks

J. Herbin 1670

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:


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pens, Anderson Pens and Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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20 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks, Ana! This video was very informative, and I’m sure it was a lot of work. I’ve never used these shimmering inks as I do fear that they’ll clog my pens. I have an unopened bottle of J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre though, and I think I’ll try it in my $13 Pilot Kakuno.

    1. That’s a great pen to try it out in since it can be completely disassembled to clean. The nib and feed come apart making clean up a breeze. You’ll smile as much as the nib.

  2. Wow, thank you so much for that huge work you did with all the sampling and testing this shimmertastic-glitz-party!

    I also had the luck to try out many of these shimmering inks (as samples at least) and totally agree with you about how writing with the inks of the different bands feels. I also prefer the Diamine inks as they feel smooth and velvety, even when you delebrately only charge the ink itself into your pen, leaving the glitter on the ground of the bottle. Night Sky and Shimmering Seas for example almost feel raised on the page, flowing perfectly and richly out of the pen, in my case a miraculously perfect Noodler’s Ahab with an untipped flex nib (that equals a fine italic nib). Add the glitz and shimmer to that and you have magic.

    A word to the hesitant: Yes, these inks not only might but will clog your pen resp. the feed eventually, but alas, it is not rubber cement you put into your pen, all these inks clean out and are watersoluble, so there is no need to be too fearful. Esp. when using a pen you can fully disassemble there is no need to worry. The fun clearly outweighs the clogging, which in my case last year needed 6 (7?) months before I had to clean my Pelikan M200 Clear Demo from Diamine Golden Sands, same with my Ahab, it had Emerald of Chivor in it for 3 or 4 months before the flow started to dwindle. Another tip might be to put a little agitator ball inside the cartridge or ink chamber, I like using the little balls that come with some Pilot cartridges to help stir up the shimmer particles.

    Go have some shiny fun!

    1. That’s good advice. It’s all water soluble and just requires patience to clean it out. Use a Lamy Safari which is easily disassemble-able. Lots of folks have recommended using a TWSBI demonstrator model like an ECO or 580 so you can see when the ink settles and roll the pen on a table to redistribute the metallic flakes rather than shaking so you don’t get bubbles in your ink. Even in a non-transparent pen, rolling your pen on the table seems to be the best way to redistribute the metallic flakes. Happy mess making!

  3. Is there any risk of harm to the feed or nibs, especially a fine or x-fine nib, from using these inks? Your thoughts, please.

    1. Nothing that can’t be cleaned out with patience, water, (possibly pen flush and a old, soft toothbrush) and more patience.

      You might want to check out Leigh’s post about her experiments with waterproof inks too. She was able to clean those out of her feeds and nibs with a bit of effort. If Leigh can clean those out, I don’t think water soluble sparkle inks will present any challenge. I get all sorts of crap out of my nibs with nothing but water, a bulb syringe and a lot of patience.

  4. Lovely post! I nabbed the very last Retro 51 Bioworkz in orange/turquoise from Vanness and noticed these inks…I was rushed but threw in a sample of Cyan Blue Copper. I think it was a great pick, it’s beautiful and cool-toned and unique.

    I’ve had the darnedest time however with actually using it. Sometimes it spews shimmer like a poltergeist and other times you can barely see it. Some days it clogs my pen and other times it flows perfectly. I’m not a newbie, so it seems like there’s something different with this particular formulation than the Herbin’s or Shimmertastics. It’s so pretty that I really don’t mind cleaning my pen occasionally, but I wish I could pinpoint what makes this one behave so strangely.

    I love it when you ramble a bit! 🙂

    1. deAtramentis inks, in general, are a lot more watery than Diamine which might be part of the issue. I’ll definitely try putting them through a longer pen test but I wanted to get all the colors up for folks to see. I knew the hardest decision would be WHAT colors to try first, then how they would behave.

  5. Enchanted Ocean’s color is much bluer than Emerald of Chivor. I have both and love both though! Enchanted Ocean kiiiiiind of reminds me of Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts, because it’s a darker greyish blue with some green in it. It also sheens! You should definitely try it. 🙂

    I haven’t tried any of the De Atramentis shimmers, but out of the shimmery inks I’ve tried, my favorites so far are Diamine Tropical Glow, Diamine Enchanted Ocean, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor, and J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre.

    My biggest hangup with using shimmers is having to distribute the sparkle, but it’s really fun to use them in a TWSBI. I tried Diamine Caramel Sparkle (which is also awesome) in one and it was so neat to watch the sparkle swirl around in the barrel! 😀

    Thanks for this awesome review!!

      1. TWSBI is a brand of pen. If you type it in to our search field you should find several reviews that we’ve done in the past.

  6. I snatched up the Heliogen Green Bronze and the Velvet Black Copper on a whim, and you’re right– the bronze and copper offerings are where they should be pushing their efforts, because there’s nothing like it anywhere else!
    I find with the HGB that it dries quite quickly on most papers, and the worse the paper, the more the bronze shows. I did a newspaper crossword with it and it looks like bronze ink, barely any green visible! It’s incredible! This doesn’t happen quite so much with the copper in the VBC, so I wonder if it’s something about the green ink, or something about the bronze flakes. I’ve also been using them in demonstrators (the TWSBI Eco, like you mentioned above for ease of cleaning) so I can roll them around and make sure the sparkle is in solution and not sitting in the barrel.
    The only other shimmer inks I’ve used are the J Herbins and Diamine Pink Glitz, and I think I know what you mean by the De Atramentis being more watery. It’s not necessarily BAD, just something you need to account for when choosing your nib (TWSBI Fine, great flow and sparkle distribution! TWSBI Medium, prepare for a river of sparkle all over everything nearby!)

  7. I saw the box of sample bottles of ink and thought to myself, where can I get that box for myself?!
    I used to get sample inks from ink crate before they shut down.
    Is that box you are showing available for sale somewhere? I’d love to swatch those on my Colo-O-Ring cards!!

  8. Are there any ink companies doing a Rose Gold colored ink?
    Rose Gold has become a big color in the crafting world.
    It would be great to have a bottle of Rose Gold ink.

    1. In a shimmer or sparkle, possibly one of the Chinese brands like PenBBS. DeAtramentis or Diamine in the European brands is probably the most likely other option with one of the DeAtramentis (carnelian) Red Bronze, Red Copper or Red Gold being your best options thought they might be too red. I’m thinking Red Bronze is probably the closest.

  9. Thanks for this review. There’s not so many reviewers who think about De Atramentis.
    I was looking at Amber Yellow and Whiskey pearlescent so you helped me t make up my mind.

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