The Pineider La Grande Bellezza Gemstone Hematite Grey Fountain with extra fine nib ($398) is certainly a mouthful to say and probably not a pen brand most people are familiar with. It’s an Italian brand of fountain pen with a lot of history behind the brand (264 years according to the documentation included in the package) and notable innovations in their designs like a magnetic twist cap.
The packaging was actually kind of charming. The box is shaped like a small writing desk and includes a small stack of notecards and envelopes under the pen rest. Its one of the most pleasing packages I’ve seen.
The material used to create the pen barrel is a combination of resin and marble dust to create a harder material with more weight and glossier finish. It also give the pen a more realistic “gemstone” look than resins alone as a result of adding actual stone materials. It certainly explains the weightier feel of the pen. Capped, the pen weighs a heft 39gms. Uncapped, with the converter filled, it weighs in at 24gms. Compared to our standard pens, listed below (capped and filled), the La Grande Bellezza is a pretty weighty pen.
The pen measures 5.5″ capped, 5″ uncapped and 6.5″ posted. The cap magnets onto the end to post but is a little loose and has a lot of play. I find it distracting as well as fairly off-balance.
The pen also has an unusual feather-shaped, spring-loaded clip. It’s definitely a design element you’ll either appreciate or not. I’m on the fence about it. The pen itself is pretty weighty and the feather clip seems very delicate in comparison to the overall weight of the pen so it seems to be a bit of a mismatch to me. It’s pretty but it doesn’t seem to match this particular pen to me. The spring load does allow the clip to easily pull out a good distance to slip over a notebook cover, pocket or anything else you might need to clip it on without worrying it might bend.
The grip section is a little awkward after awhile. I can’t quite put my finger on why. The divot just created a bit of an uncomfortable grip after awhile for me. It could be because I have small hands and the grip was a touch wide for me but after awhile I needed to set the pen down.
One particularly unusual detail can be seen around the cap band. Engraved in the silver band is the brand name “Pineider” as well as the phrase “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” What possessed an Italian pen manufacturer to include this particular pangram on the pen band is beyond me.
However, that’s not what has gotten the pen community all in a tizzy. No sir-ee. It’s that the La Grande Bellezza Gemstone series ships with their Quill nib. The nib is the flexible, palladium-plated 14k nib with cuts in the side to create the necessary give. This nib is available in four widths: extra fine, fine, medium broad and a 1.3mm stub. I tested the extra fine. I was hoping for maximum range of fine-fines and thick-thicks.
There is definitely flex in this nib and some great line variation. I think, as a result of the weight of the pen itself however, the extra fine nib flexes just from the weight of the pen. I think in a lighter weight pen, the difference between the fine lines and thicks would be a bit more distinct.
Bob was kind enough to test the pen as well. Since he has less experience with flex nibs, I wanted him to try it as well. He was less successful getting line variation from the nib but I suspect this was a result of the extra fine nib and a heavier hand overall. I think a wider nib would be stiffer and provide more resistance for someone with a heavier hand.
Overall, this is definitely a springy nib. Is it a full flex? Not entirely. The more I play with it, the easier it is to use but it is not as pleasing as a vintage flex.When pushed, I would catch the feed on the paper and the feed would occasionally run dry (not keep up with the nib). So, its still not perfect but its considerably better than other modern options I’ve seen thus far. But if you’re up to tinkering at this level, you would probably be willing to experiment with a vintage pen too.
The Pineider La Grande Bellezza Gemstone Fountain Pen is available in four colors: gray, lapis blue, malachite green and rodolite red as well as the four nib sizes mentioned earlier.