Ink Review: Lamy Crystal Obsidian

By Jessica Coles

When I first heard about Lamy’s new Crystal ink line I was excited because, hey, new ink! Even when the Lamy showed the colors of the ink line in their advertising, I remained excited.  But when I started to see swabs of the colors, my enthusiasm started to wane since the colors seemed to have issues: one was a repeat of a special edition (Rhodonite), another missed the purple mark (Azurite) or colors that are very close to other brands (Amazonite). However, there have also been winning colors in the line (Agate) that are quite original.  I would place Lamy Crystal Obsidian ($14 for 30mL at Vanness) in the latter category.

The band at the bottom of the cap blends in with the black ink of the bottle, but I appreciate the detail. The is packaged securely within the box and should have no trouble with broken bottles during shipping.

I love the look of the bottle and they store nicely next to one another, but the bottle itself is not particularly shaped well for filling a pen. If you are filling a converter, the shallow bottle is quite nice.  Filling directly into the pen, whether it is a converter pen or a piston filler, the bottle presents a challenge.

Lamy Crystal Obsidian is a lovely ink that gets the deep black from the blue section of the spectrum.  However, during normal writing, there was no indication of the blue undertones.  Obsidian is a deep, true black.

The dry time is longer than I usually see with Lamy inks, taking about 30 seconds to dry.  You can see where I became impatient above! 

The only time I experienced any indication of possible bleed-through was when I dropped water on a heavy patch of the ink.  Although some of the ink did wipe away, this was excess dye.  Lamy Crystal Obsidian should be quite readable even after a liquid dunk.

Obsidian is a semi-precious volcanic glass that can hold an incredibly sharp edge.  There is no sheen with Obsidian, although the edge could be said to be present in the crisp writing – in other words, no feathering.


I found Lamy Crystal Obsidian to be a delightfully black ink that needed to be a part of my obsession collection. True black inks are hard to come across, especially one that is easy to clean out of a pen.

My favorite black has been Sailor Kiwa-guro even though it can be difficult to fully clean out of a pen.  Since it is pigmented, it is water-resistant but needs extra attention while cleaning. Kiwa-guro also has a bit of a sheen which keeps it from looking truly black in some lighting.  I’ve also had the same issue below with Platinum Carbon Black – some lighting makes the black look faded (although it doesn’t appear so in person). Lamy Crystal Obsidian, however, seems to absorb any light thrown it’s way.

I highly recommend Obsidian as a valuable addition to your ink line.  I have kept a pen inked with it since purchasing my bottle – I always seem to find a need for black ink throughout my day. Plus, how hard can it be to use up the smaller 30mL bottle!


Disclaimer: All items in this review were purchased by me.  For more information, visit our About page.


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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hi, Jessica! Thanks for the review. I just got my first gold nib pen, a Lamy 2000 in medium, and I’m struggling to decide on a black ink. I like ‘em dark, so I’ve been looking at this, Aurora black, and a few others. I have and love Platinum carbon black, but don’t want to do extra maintenance on a pen that isn’t meant to be disassembled. Any favorites you can suggest for my new setup? Thanks!

    1. Josh – I’ve compared Lamy Obsidian black to both Aurora black and Herbin Perle Noire. I find Lamy Obsidian black to be slightly darker than both of those inks. By darker, I mean that the same writing, from the same fine nib pen, on the same paper shows consistently darker writing with no shading at all when using Lamy Obsidian. In particular with Perle Noir and Aurora black, it was black most of the time, but sometimes had a little grey tint in part of the letters. In order of consistent and deep blackness, my subjective opinion is Obsidian > Aurora > Perle Noir. It’s certainly not a huge difference though, all of the inks are very black.

  2. Hi Jessica – I just started writing with my sample of Lamy Obsidian black. My results largely mirror your results. It’s a very deep and excellent black. I too have found some sort of shine on Sailor Kiwaguro and Platinum carbon black which sometimes takes away from the deepness of those blacks. Of course, those two pigment inks have waterproof properties too, but I’m starting to back down from my obsession with both waterproof qualities and blackness. I also noticed that even after letting the two pigment inks sit overnight on Tomoe river paper, I can virtually erase my writing with an ordinary pencil eraser. There’s no such problem on more absorbent papers like cotton, but I was surprised.

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