I’ve tried a few inks in my collection of pens, and here’s a brief list of the colours and brands, and how I personally rate them.
Overall, subjectively my two 5-star favourites are Diamine Earl Grey, and Herbin Bleu des Profondeurs.
I like Diamine ink. It’s great quality, easily available, good colours, and inexpensive. It’s not too dry nor too wet. It dries quickly enough for me and doesn’t bleed or show through on the notebooks I use (Clairfontaine, Leuchtturm 1917, Paperchase).
My favourite colour in Diamines range. Use an extra fine nib and it almost looks like graphite pencil.
The bottle is sitting on the shelf waiting for the right moment to make it’s mark on the page. I have no doubts this will be a useful everyday ink.
Autumn oak, Matador, Ultra green, Marine, Bilberry. I’ve not yet tried these, aside from Autumn Oak.
A nice enough orange, with brownish red overtones and a good flow. I’d like it more if it was slightly darker brown, but the effect matches the name quite well.
From a cartridge it bleeds badly on quality paper, but is fine on copier/printer paper. I can only assume the bottled ink is the same formula, but it could be the pen is particularly wet just as easily.
It’s not an everyday ink for me.
E’au de nil
A turquoise blue green. Pleasant. Deserves a broader nib.
I’ve only one RO ink so far, and I feel mostly positive about it.
It’s a weird brown green. I like the ink but not the colour, and I just don’t have a use for it.
These inks strike me as more free flowing than the others, but I’ve only tried one so far.
It’s orange, and seems a little wet and watery. I need to get a different red, something more definitely crimson.
Quink is easy to get in the UK as it’s stocked everywhere. It’s a quick drying and as such quite a dry ink. Pairs well with Parker pens, unsurprisingly.
Quink doesn’t shade, at least for me. This lends it a more formal appearance.
Black is a decent black, blue is a little pale for my preference. Blue-black is fairly good as an ink. Overall I prefer a more fluid ink, so I probably won’t rebuy this one.
I’ve only used cartridges from Faber Castel, and the quality was respectable given they were included with a cheap pen intended for school use.
Konigsblau Royal Blue
Lovely erasable ink, in a mid blue. Good for schoolwork. Cartridges only, so kept for the FC pens.
Cartidges given free with the pens.
A washable mid blue. Ok but not my favourite as I prefer darker, less saturated colours. They do have a good amount of ink in the cartridge though which is a benefit.
These are lovely inks with super saturation. I need a few more out of their colour range as I’ve only two but they are really nice.
A really strong purple colour. Incredibly bold and best used sparingly.
My favourite green colour. It’s dark but not excessively so, and pleasant on the eye.
These are now sold as Octopus, but I don’t believe the formula has changed.
Konigsblau / Royal Blue
A somewhat wet blue, mid colour, and useful as a general purpose ink. It’s not top of my list but was inexpensive and does get used in the rotation.
I like these in the little metal tins of 6 cartridges purely because they fit perfectly into Kaweco Sport pens. I’ve found other brands don’t work very well, so having a supply in a case is a bonus.
Lie de Tea
A good brown colour that flows well, dries well, and looks smart. It’s best for fine nibs because it doesn’t really shade at all.
Bleu des Profondeurs
Amazingly rich deep blue. One of my favourite colours. The depth of the blue makes me want to try it with a broader nib.
I’ve a few Jinhao black cartidges that I need to try again. They are larger than the usual international short ones. From memory this was quite a wet ink but should pair well with fine nibs. I’ll use them up rather than let them collect dust, all ink is good ink.