Fountain Pen Review: TWSBI Diamond Mini AL Grape – Limited Edition

I don’t know precisely why I love my TWSBIs as much as I do. Sure there’s the fact that they’re sort of modern, tech-y looking with the see through barrels, and the piston filler. There’s the fact that my TWSBIs almost always start on the first go, and don’t run dry unless they are literally out of ink. The, ECOs, of which I have three, are incredibly reasonably priced so they make great entry-level fountain pens. They provide a nice, if not exceptional, writing experience. They’re available in a ton of different nib sizes. Ok… I guess I’ve given myself a few reasons.

Despite really liking my TWSBI ECOs, I’ve never actually branched out and tried any of their other pens. (I take that back, I tried the TWSBI Swipe a while ago and thought it was ok.) But this time I saw the TWSBI Diamond Mini AL in Grape (a limited edition color!; $62.50) and decided to give the more expensive model a go!

The Diamond Mini AL is TWSBI’s version of a pocket pen. It is styled similarly to the other pens, in the sense that it has a transparent plastic barrel which gives you a bird’s eye view of the piston filling system. There are differences though. The grip and part of the piston system are designed in aluminum. The barrel of the pen is faceted (hence the “Diamond” feel and look). While the ECO and the SWIPE tend to be boxier, with edges on the cap, the Diamond Mini’s edges are rounded, and the cap is tapered. Overall while the ECO is utilitarian, the Diamond Mini is a bit sleeker looking.

I decided to compare a few pens that I use as daily writers to give you a sense of size.

L to R: TWSBI Eco, TWSBI Diamond Mini AL, Kaweco AL Sport, Sailor Pro-Gear Slim.

While the pens vary quite a bit in length when capped, when uncapped the Diamond Mini AL and the Kaweco AL Sport aren’t that different in length. The nibs, however, do have a size differential. In terms of weight they’re very similar: The Pro Gear comes in at 19gm, the ECO at 20, the AL Sport at 21g, and finally the Diamond Mini AL is the heaviest at 23g. But that’s not a HUGE range.

So what do I think? If I’m entirely 100% honest, I don’t feel much of a writing difference between the ECO and the Diamond Mini AL. This is my first extra fine nib from TWSBI, and given that TWSBI tends to use western-style nibs, I don’t find the extra fine to be scratchy in the least. In fact I quite like it. The pen is a bit weightier in my hand, and it’s smaller in size, but I have small hands and it seems like a comfortable writer. So what would make me pay more for the Diamond AL Mini? To me, it comes down to aesthetics. The Mini is fun, and often I do prefer aluminum to plastic (see my preferences for Kawecos!), but given that I don’t see a huge writing difference, I feel like I’m more apt to stick with the ECOs than amass another collection.

Do you have a favorite TWSBI? I’d love to hear about it!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided to us free of charge or at a discount for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have almost an embarrassingly large collection of TWSBIs and the majority of those are variations on the AL theme… silver and color du jour, demonstrators, both AL, AL mini and vac mimi and a few ECOs… I overwhelmingly prefer the skosh of added weight the ALs give me, the design elements, the aesthetic. I am NOT generally a ‘mini’ pen person, but if I need one, it will be the TWS before I look for my lone Kaweco. I have so many beautifully colored TWSbis, I group them like a flower bouquet! YMMV…

  2. I also recently bought the Grape Mini AL. I love TWSBI minis and have several of them. My favorite is my Rose Gold Mini, both for looks and because she has the best nib of the bunch (very slight differences). The Aqua Mini AL is a very close second. I’d love it if TWSBI came out with more colors in the Mini. Let’s see, my collection includes: the Classic Mini AL, Diamond Mini AL, Gold Mini AL, Slate Blue Mini AL, Aqua Mini AL, Rose Gold Mini AL, and the Grape Mini AL. I love their minis so much, I’d buy almost any color they came out with. I’d love to see a pink and/or red mini. I have B nibs on about half of them and 1.5 mm stubs on the rest. I have small hands and their minis fit me perfectly. I tried an Eco and a TWSBI Diamond 580, but for me, they are too large for comfort. Love my minis!

  3. I love TWSBI, but I’ve discovered I like writing with the minis more than the Eco. It’s about the section. I don’t mind a triangular grip at all – so it isn’t that. It’s the nib-end of the section on the Eco I like less. I hold a pen/pencil pretty close to the writing end, and the Eco has little… knobs, sort of… around that end of the section, and I’m constantly feeling them making indentations in my middle finger. The Minis don’t have that. Having said that, I still really appreciate all my TWSBIs. They do a great job of sealing air flow away from the nib when they’re capped, which is critical for me who maintains.. (ahem) several (coughtoomanycough) pens inked pretty much all the time, so they tend to have ink in them for a long time. I just got the grape mini, too. Haven’t had a chance to ink it up yet, but will in the next day or so. Anyway – thanks for your review.

  4. I’ve got a TWSBI Mini in the mint colour (whichever they named it. I always forget because there was a TWSBI 580 limited in that colour, and I think they called it turquoise? And the other was mint. Or vice-versa! Regardless….)
    It’s a pen that I forget how much I enjoy using it. The little nib on mine came out of the box writing so well for me. I’ve had Diamine Eau de Nil in it basically since I’ve gotten it, and the pairing is such a delight. I’m really jonesing for the grape, because the two colours are my favs! (Mint/teal and purple) But I just haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet. (And obviously you have to have colour coordination between the two, right??)
    You are right thought, I feel like there isn’t a huge writing difference between this and the Eco. But I do find I reach for my Mini more than my Eco (though that’s less true after I got a custom grind on my Eco). I do tend to like the shape of the Mini in my hand, but both it and the Eco are comfortable writers for me.

  5. I love TWSBIs and I love purple so of course I had to get it. I filled it with Sailor’s Warning and the combination of sparkly purple and shimmery pink inside just makes me so happy.

  6. I hear you on the ECOs – they’re such a fantastic entry point into the world of fountain pens. Affordable, consistent, and available in a rainbow of colors and nib sizes – what more could you ask for? Sure, maybe they’re not the ultimate luxury writing experience, but they definitely deliver a smooth, enjoyable performance.

  7. I’m late to reading this excellent review. The Eco and Mini use the same nib. That would explain why you didn’t feel a difference. I learned this from Jet Pens when I got a special edition Eco that was made for the Japanese market. I wanted the 1.1mm stub nib for the Eco. Jet Pens responded that I could either buy a diamond mini nib unit, or an Eco with the nib I wanted.

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