Ink Line Preview: Monarca Stationery Inks

Monarca Boxes

Monarca Fine Writing Ink is a new line of inks from Mexico. The first thing that apparent from the outside is that these are from somewhere tropical. Each box features full color artwork of a desert or ocean landscape. There are four bottles in the “Caribe” line and four inks in the “SemiDesierto” and the limited edition shimmer ink, Rey Jaguar.

Monarca bottle holder

All inks come in 30ml glass bottles and every box ships with a wooden base that holds the ink bottle and includes a rest for your pen.

Monarca bottle holder and pen stand
The pen stand will work better with a dip pen or glass pen. This Pilot 912 FA is a little too big to sit comfortably

Monarca bottle holder and pen stand

There is a bit of foam on the inside of the wood stand that helps keep the bottle snug and stable.

Monarca ink bottle, color card and stand

Inside each box was also a small color card showing the full product range.

The eight main ink colors from the initial release from Monarca Stationery.

For full swatch comparisons, click below to see more.

This is a close-up of the swatch of Monarca Cardona showing more of the base color and the sheen.
This is a close-up of the swatch for Monarca Rey Jaguar showing the shimmer.
This is a close-up of Monarca Cenote showing some of the sheen.

Caribe Collection:

Mar Caribe (Caribbean Sea) is a bright turquoise blue. Of course, the closest ink color I could find is my beloved Robert Oster Torquay. Sheaffer Green and J. Herbin Bleu Calanque are both just a bit darker.

Manglar (translates to Mangrove which is a shrub that grows along coastlines) is a deep green with slight blue undertones. Despite my massive assortment of green inks, finding a similar shade of green was a challenge. Diamine Salamander is the closest I could find. Noodler’s Army Green is more yellow and Taccia Midori Green is much brighter. Trust me, I looked through dozens of inks and these were the closest in color and hue.

The most unique color in both collections is Arena Blanca (translates to White Sands) which is a pale golden tan. What’s so delightful about this light color is it is still legible. I so wanted to love Ferris Wheel Press Cream of Earl (she says as she drinks a cup of Earl Grey tea) but it is too light to be legible. I don’t have a lot of pale warm inks so this comparison is a little bit of a hodge podge. Pen BBS #401 Afternoon Ink is the closest ink in my collection but it is darker, truly more the color of an afternoon cup of black tea.

Cenote is named after limestone water pools. The ink is deep indigo with a bit of sheen. I compared it to other deep blue and sheeners and was stunned to find it didn’t quite look the same as any other ink in my collection. I’m always so shocked when this happens. While this sort of deep dark blue isn’t an earth shattering color, I’m still surprised how different Cenote looks. The closest color I could find was Diamine Majestic Blue. Krishna Moonview, Vinta Dugong Bughaw and Maharlika Azure are all much sheenier.

The swatch above Diamine Majestic Blue is Monarca Cenote. The image shows how much sheenier the other inks are.


Semidesierto Collection:

The colors in the Semidesierto Collection are inspired by the more arid environments of the high desert landscapes.

Tierra Colorada is named after a city in southwest Mexico. In researching, there are many photos of Tierra Colorada that show soil this bright red. Like the land where terra cotta pots are made. Its a very warm red brown. Tierra Colorada does shade but does not sheen. Similar colors include Diamine Ancient Copper (more red), Krishna Goldfish Gold (more red-orange), Robert Oster Hippo Purple (more purple) and Diamine Roasted Chestnut (probably the most similar overall).

Nopal (Nopal is a common name in Spanish for Opuntia cacti) is a deep green tinged with warmth (I see both yellow and a hint of red in the swatch). There is little to no sheen in this color but it does show some shading. Diamine Safari and PenBBS Tolstoy are both more yellow and Sailor Epinard and Tokiwa-Matsu are both considerably more sheeny.

Cielo Cruel (Cruel Sky) is a deep dark blue that shades but has no noticeable sheen. It has a little bit of violet in the blue making it unique. It’s not quite a blue black nor is it a bright, vivid blue. When writing, Cielo Cruel shows more of the bluish purple color. If you compare it to Sailor’s Sailor or Sailor Souten, the fine lines are more of a bright blue but the fine lines of Cielo Cruel are noticeably more lavender grey.

The Semidesierto collection includes one sheeny color: Cardona. I attempted to research the origin of the name. I was unable to come up with a direct connection but the deep purply red with a brilliant green-gold sheen reminds me of the skin of the prickly pear cactus fruit. Due to the high sheen of Cardona, there is very little shading but WOW! that sheen. Interestingly, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite was probably the closest comparable color though it may have a more red base, the sheen makes it hard to actually determine the base color once the ink is dry. Vinta Sandugo Sikatuna is similar in sheen but the color feels darker.

Swatches from top to bottom: Bungubox Matador, Monarca Cardona, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite, Diamine Communication Breakdown and Vinta Sandugo Sikatuna.

Rey Jaguar Shimmer Ink:

The final ink color to look at is the limited edition shimmer ink: Rey Jaguar. Rey Jaguar ink ($29 for 30ml) is a special limited edition ink. Only 600 bottles were produced and a percentage of the sales of this ink will be donated to conservation efforts to save the Jaguar from extinction.

The color is a warm golden color with gold shimmer. Its a color that reminds me of Robert Oster Honey Bee with shimmer. Upon further digging, Diamine Shimmer Golden Sands is almost identical in color. If you were looking for a beautiful golden shimmer ink, Rey Jaguar ties with Diamine Golden Sands.

Final Impressions:

The packaging, bottle  and the wooden bottle stand are reason enough to purchase at least one bottle of this ink. The most interesting colors are Arena Blanca and Cardona. For someone like me with 100s of inks, I am becoming a bit more selective about the inks I buy. I am excited to see a new ink manufacturer coming out strong with a lovely collection of inks. If you are new to the ink habit, purchasing one or two bottles of Monarca is a great option.  Of course, as these inks are new to the market, further testing and writing samples will be necessary. We are certainly planning to do more in-depth reviews and writing tests and look forward to hearing your impressions of these inks.
Monarca Inks are currently available in Mexico through their online store and in the USA and the rest of the world through Etsy. More information about the inks are available on their site.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Monarca Stationery for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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11 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Do you know if Robert Oster ink bottles will fit in the wood holder? Brad and Myke were discussing that topic recently, I believe in response to an Ask TPA. Thanks.

  2. Wow… LOVE this post!
    It’s the fun unique finds that get me excited…and from Mexico? How awesome is that…

    Thank you for posting… Now off to break my “NO MORE INK” agreement!

  3. I immediately went to check these out, they look so interesting! $39 shipped (one bottle of Cardona) is a bit expensive for me though. I’ll keep an eye on them maybe if they come up with something I HAVE to have! It’s always fun to see what’s new!

      1. Wonderful post. Thank you for helping me decide to indulge. They are located somewhat close to me, but just over the border so I will chalk it up to buying local. There have been so many wonderful new brands emerging that it is a bit hard to spread the love in giving them all a chance. Cardona is cactus fruit; also called prickly pear or tuna.

  4. For those balking at shipping, Dromgoole’s has the full line of Monarca and reasonable/free shipping. I’m not affiliated with them, but have made purchases from them and have been more than satisfied with the service.

  5. “Cardona” refers to a fruit of Nopal (Yes, this cactus provide a fruit!) named “tuna cardona”.
    Some “nopales” produce “tunas” with an intense red color and some green accent on the fruit skin (the fruit is so delicious by the way).

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