Katy’s Top 5 Favorite Inks

 Katy Campbell is one of our most knowledgeable product experts here on Team Goulet. She’s been on the front lines of our customer care team for a year and a half, and has written a TON of personal notes on customers’ orders. She’s used at least as many different inks as I have over the last year and a half, and has graciously crafted this post for you to benefit from her experience. She has different taste than I do (meaning she likes colors that aren’t blue!) so I thought you’d enjoy hearing a fresh perspective.

Write On, Brian Goulet

Over the past year and a half, I have taken a front seat to a smorgasbord of ink samples in The Goulet Pen Company warehouse. And needless to say it has been a little spoiling. Honestly, I have fallen in love with too many colors. But today I thought I would narrow down the selection to my Top 5.  It definitely wasn’t easy but of all the inks I have sampled I truly do love writing with each of these inks.

De Atramentis Cherry

First on my list is the ever so warm De Atramentis Cherry. I adore the wine like color and it is scented. The smell of cherries as I write adds a little extra something to my day. I often catch myself going in for an extra whiff. (I guess that is kind of weird haha)

Stipula Sapphron

Confession: I love reality T.V. I wish I didn’t but I find myself always getting hooked to some new show. One of my all-time-favorites is Top Chef on Bravo. But why would I like a show about cooking food? I cannot even taste what they cook but still I find myself judging them… hard. I find myself in utter disbelief that the chefs would over-salt the asparagus. How simple. Salt.

Confession: I destroyed asparagus while cooking the other day with salt to the point that it was inedible. Whoops.

But, whenever I use Stipula Sapphron (the ink), it takes me back to the college days when I used to binge watch Top Chef. Sapphron (the spice) was a common surprise ingredient that I didn’t even know existed. The color reminds me of Noodler’s Apache Sunset, which has always been a staff favorite. The ink feels sunny when you write with it. The shading is cool. And I find myself always wanting to grab another sample.

Diamine Coral

Next on my list is Diamine Coral. I am a girl. And this is a girly ink.  Plain and simple, Diamine Coral is fun. I like the vibrant orangey-pink color. It has a lot of punch to it. Honestly, as it starts to get warm here in Virginia I get super excited for summer. If there are any Frozen fans out there, I start to feel like Olaf and may or may not sing about summer. With that in mind, Diamine Coral definitely reminds me of summer and it looks great in of some of my broader nibs.

Organics Studio Foggy Bottom

Now, this ink is more of a nostalgic choice. I grew up close to Washington D.C. One summer, I actually worked in the District and had to commute via Metro. I got used to the muddled sounds of the announcer saying “Next stop: Foggy Bottom. First stop in the District of Columbia.” That meant I was finally close and the workday was about to begin. So, when I use this ink it reminds me of that summer and the cool stuff I got to do as a museum intern.

Nostalgia aside, I really do like the color of Organics Studio Foggy Bottom. It is an odd brown but the shading is incredible.  It kind of looks like coffee… you know, with lots of sugar and cream and maybe some caramel on top.

Platinum Carbon Black

Everyone has to have a go-to black ink, right? Well just the other day, I found mine. Currently, I am in love with Platinum Carbon Black. It writes super smooth, dark, and it’s waterproof. I love how generously the ink flows out of each of my pens. If I didn’t work for a fountain pen company who loved using colors like Diamine Apple Glory during the workday, this would be the ink I take to all of my meetings.

Well, that is my Top 5. Please don’t hold me accountable to these colors in a year’s time. It’s a girl’s prerogative to change her mind.

What are the top five on your list right now? Show us using the hashtag #inkygoodness on Instagram or Twitter. Or leave a comment below.  We’ll talk soon.

2017-10-11T14:38:03+00:00 June 5th, 2014|Ink Reviews|30 Comments
  • Great fun lettering, Katy! Thanks for sharing your faves!

  • jesse

    My bottle of foggy bottom is nothing like that, more of a brown red

  • William Eagleburger

    Great picks, Katy. I really like the Foggy Bottom, which reminds me of Diamine Golden Brown. Like the Saffron, too. Have you checked the price of saffron (the spice) lately? It's insanely expensive. I really don't have a set-in-stone top five, but some of my faves are: Diamine Red Dragon, Emerald, Noodlers Midnight Blue, and Diamine Ancient Copper. And by the way, you really have a beautiful smile! Have a great day, and thanks for all your hard work at Goulet Pens.

  • Brenda the ink addict

    #1 is a toss up between de Atramentis Cherry and Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite,
    #2 would be Noodlers Navajo Turquoise (blue but not just blue)
    #3Private Reserve plum
    #4 Edelstein jade
    #5 de atramentis khaki
    And by tomorrow, I may have a new list as I just got the latest ink drop. Write on!

  • TJ

    William, 10 years ago the retail price for saffron was $10,000 per pound. I shudder to think what it might be today. Fortunately it takes only a fraction of a gram to make saffron rice! Ancient Copper is one of my favorites too.

  • Tom Johnson

    Wow, Katy, what beautiful artwork and lettering! I love the de Atramentis Cherry, outstanding. The others are wonderful too, they have such ranges of expression. Of course everyone has to have at least one black. I have two favorite blacks but might add Platinum Carbon Black (it's on my wish list now). My top 5 (non-black) favorites (for now): Iroshizuku Yama-budo, Diamine Ancient Copper, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, Diamine Oxblood. Yes, that's 6, so hard to leave one out. How can you narrow dozens down to 5? And I'm thinking about getting a brown shade. Thanks for sharing Katy, this is wonderful!

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    I love Edelstein Jade! That one definitely nears the top.

  • Richard Bonde

    J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Rouge Hematite
    J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean
    J. Herbin Perle Noire
    Iroshizuku kon-peki
    De Atramentis Silver Grey

  • ★ keri ★

    How does the Carbon Black do with cleaning? I need a deep black to use for sketching with watercolors, but because black is a basic every day ink, I often fail to flush the pen as often as it probably needs to be done… The name makes me think that it's more pigment- than dye-based, so is it going to clog and such?

    I suppose I could get a sample to try, but there's really not enough ink in one of those to thoroughly test it. The pen I plan to use it with is a very fine Sailor Clear Candy, so not super expensive, but it does tend to write a little dry because of the fineness (though I'm considering getting a Safari in last year's pink for swappable nibs, as I've started to get used to the triangle grip of my Jinhao).

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    That is crazy! I had no idea. Sometimes I get lost in the spice aisle. But William and TJ both would get along great in the office. Ancient Copper is definitely a staff favorite. We usually make anyone new use it first in the office. 🙂

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    That's sweet. I am definitely a rookie but Pinterest is the best for a little extra inspiration.

  • ★ keri ★

    I have such a difficult time figuring out my favorite inks. It's one of the reasons I love that y'all offer samples! (I did the math and it's ultimately cheaper to buy a full bottle, but sample sizes are more fun…)

    Generally, I tend to like inks that work well together in my Hobonichi Techo or my Rhodia Webplanner (and it's almost time for a new one of those…), so one work-professional color, a nice turquoise, a brilliant pink, and two more that have a nice contrast/saturation.

    Work/Black: Diamine Eclipse (I also adore Diamine Bilberry here, but it can be a little too purple, and it doesn't work as well in my Sailor Clear Candy)

    Turquoise: currently Lamy Turquoise, but I'm going to switch to Diamine Aqua Blue when my bottle is empty, as I prefer the Diamine's flow

    Pink: De Atramentis Cherry Blossom when it was that lovely peach-pink shade, but Iroshizuku Tsutsuji, Edelstein Turmaline, and Diamine Antique Pink and Flamingo Pink are also acceptable (my ideal is the "Clear Candy" cartridge pink from Sailor)

    Dark Contrasty: generally I keep going back to deep teals – Diamine Twilight, Noodler's Navy, Private Reserve Ebony Blue, De.A. Plum.

    Bright Contrasty: this one I change most often – I like Moss Green (is that DeA.?), DeA, Ochre Yellow, Apache Sunset… I tend to want an orange or bright green here.

    And then sometimes I'll completely change up my palette and go with a scheme based around deep purples like Diamine Grape/Bilberry or reds/browns like DeA. Elderberry or Diamine Merlot, or greens with P.R. Avacado/Spearmint.

    It's so hard to pick a favorite, honestly. And I always have a minimum of 5 pens inked up – I have 7 daily carries, but these five categories are about what I find myself using regularly, and these are my favorites in those categories.

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    Carbon Black is a pigmented ink but I haven't had too much trouble cleaning it yet. I typically don't let it stay in my pen for more than a week though. And clogging hasn't ever been an issue. I just love it.

  • Robert Matthews

    Fun choices and I love your lettering!

    Changing one's mind isn't just a girl's prerogative. I am constantly falling in and out of love with inks. Right now I can't resist:

    1) Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, my one forever love, the ultimate blue-black
    2) Herbin Vert Empire, a sober-sided dark green with a bit of dust to it
    3) De Atramentis Forget-Me-Not, faintly scented and a dazzling blue
    4) Levenger True Teal, more peacock blue than teal but it makes me happy
    5) vintage Skrip Royal Blue Writing Fluid, sixty years if it's a day and alchemized into a dusty, slightly greyed blue which is a thing of beauty

    I don't have a black ink. I have lots of samples but I never keep them in my pens for long. They bore me, and life is too short for boring inks. If I need to be businesslike I have plenty of blue-blacks.

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    Wow! The way you described each of those inks makes me want to clean out ALL of my pens and ink those up. That is a great great Top 5. 🙂

  • Giovanni’s Roomba

    I have five good piston-fill or converter pens, each with a different ink, and yet I CONSTANTLY want to empty them out and put new inks into them, even when I'm happy with what I'm using. I have a new bottle of Rouge Hématite and I am DESPERATE to put it into a good pen rather than a disposable, so I'm writing writing writing to empty out a Lamy. It is the torment of the ink lover!

  • Starchix

    Katy, what fun choices and wonderful, fun lettering! I always look forward to my Katy comments when I receive an order from Goulet. The ink color is always a surprise. I am not drawn to pinks or oranges, but after getting a note in some 'Pumpkin' ink, and a few others, I am thinking of branching out. I suppose I'll have to try Apache Sunset and Ancient Copper, because of the constant comments from others.

    The ink sample thing is totally insane. Luckily they are inexpensive, otherwise I would be broke — too many inks to try, so little time!

    I keep changing my favorites, but currently I am loving (not in any order)

    1) PR American Blue (but switching off with Iroshizuku Kon Peki and Asa Gao) Brian has converted me….
    2) PR Blue Suede (I mean!!!!!!) switching off with PR Cadillac Green — both just as yummy as anything
    3) Noodler's Burgundy switched off with PR Plum (I tried Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, but it doesn't flow out of the nib)
    4) Noodler's La Couleur Royale switched off with PR Tanzanite
    5) whichever black I'm using — still haven't found the one I love best — currently Noodler's Borealis Black. I like a black that gushes out of the pen and blasts onto the page with blackness supreme

    What a fun post! Brian, can we have more guest ink blogs?

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    I love love love each of those colors!

  • Justin

    Nice choices. The Sapphron looks particularly interesting. I might order a sample next time. Just one thing I'd like to mention – the Platinum Carbon ink can stain, so it might not be the best choice for any pen with transparent parts that come in contact with the ink. I used some in a Parallel Pen for some calligraphy work, and even though I cleaned the pen thoroughly right after I was done, it's still got stains in it to this day. Not that I mind for that pen, but I wouldn't use Carbon in most demonstrators.

    Also if anyone's interested, here's my top everyday ink list at the moment:

    1. Organics Studio Masters of Writing Series: Edgar Allan Poe – Raven Red
    2. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku
    3. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai
    4. Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki
    5. Pilot Iroshizuku (notice a pattern?) Kon-Peki

    The real surprise was the Edgar Allan Poe Raven Red. For reds, I'm a big fan of J. Herbin Rouge Hematite. However, I often use Fuyu-Gaki and Diamine Sunset for everyday use, since Rouge Hematite can stain and clog pens more easily due to its unique properties. But Raven Red is even deeper than Rouge Hematite, with a beautiful purplish black hue that sets it apart, and it behaves better and from what I've seen it tends to stain less. It's priced well to boot.

    It's hard to compete with the Iroshizuku lineup, but this one is just so good it takes the top for now. 🙂

  • David Peters

    I like the cherry and sapphron. I will have to try these sometime.

    I only recently found the ink spot and have tried a few samples. So I do not have a lot to choose from yet. But my early favorites are…
    1. J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite. Great rich red.
    2. Noodler's La Coulour Royale. Regular blues are boring I like the hint of purple.
    3. Noodler's Apache Sunset. This looks like it compares to the Sapphron maybe a bit more orange.
    4. PR Burgundy Mist.
    5. Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite

    Still trying to find a favorite black.

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    I love a nice Pilot Iroshizuku line-up. Each of the colors really are excellent. And I love that Fuyu-Gaki. It is so bright and fun.

    I will have to give OS Edgar Allan Poe. I haven't tried it yet but love a good red ink.

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    This is an excellent list. You've got a lot of different colors here.

    There is going to be a new formulation of Rouge Hematite coming out soon, like in the next week or so. I am excited to see the new sheening. Let me know what you think!

  • Lori Todd

    Interesting picks Katy! The Stipula Sapphron sooks so close to the computer images that I've seen of Noodler's Apache Sunset (I've never tried the ink). And the De Atramentis Cherry looks very much like Noodler's Ottoman Rose, though Noodler's, of course, probably doesn't smell quite as nice as the cherry!

    I'm glad that you posted this, as well as the updated bios that were posted last month. You're the main person that I've spoken with at Goulet Pens and it's nice to put a happy shiney face to your happy shiney voice. 🙂

    Top 5 Favorite Inks?

    Well, it depends on what I'm currently using and in what ink/nib combination. But let's see if I can come up with five, or perhaps six.

    J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune
    Iroshizuku Shin-kai
    Visconti Blue
    Noodler's Nightshade
    Noodler's 54th Massachusetts
    Private Reserve Blue Suede

    I do find that I tend to prefer darker inks, probably, in part, because I prefer to write with finer nibs. Interestingly, I purchased both Nightshade and 54h Massachusetts based solely on user reviews, both at Gouletpens.com and at the Fountain Pen Network–and I absolutely love both of them! I've diluted Nightshade with distilled water and I've also mixed it with Noodler's Ottoman Rose and distilled water. I've gotten some really nice mixes with it this way. I also tend to see more shading when I dilute it. My 54th Massachusetts has flow problems in a couple of pens, but primarily in a Lamy Studio, but that pen has lots of flow problems in general. I might try diluting 54th to see if that helps. I do love the color and the history behind Nathan's creation of the ink. I really think that ink is his poetry and that is a big part of my attraction to Noodler's inks. I know of no other product that is designed in Nathan's very creative and passionate way. Very cool indeed!

    Oddly though, I don't love Kon-peki. This is the ONE ink that, seemingly, everybody who has ever tried absolutely loves. I just don't. Perhaps it's not dark enough for me, or perhaps it would look better in a wider nib. But I choose my inks based on how I write and with the nibs that are my preference. Or maybe, there's just something wrong with me. 😉

    But I'll revisit it again in the future to see if it grows on me.

  • kbenton

    Very nice inks! As a DC resident, I'm very inclined to pick up a bottle of Foggy Bottom as a matter of pride. I wonder what a Woodley Park ink would look like… green, I expect.

    My top 5 are (for the moment)
    – J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune
    – Noodler's Pin Stripe Homage
    – Diamine Evergreen
    – Diamine Merlot
    – Waterman Havana

    I'm dying to try out the Iroshizuku's, but it's an investment and i already have so much ink!

  • David Peters

    I will have to keep an eye out for the new formulation. Although I have had my eye on Diamine Oxblood. I like the darker reds.

    I am a bit ADD when it comes to my inks. I am always wanting to change colors that is part of what got me started with fountain pens. I go nuts when I fill one of my piston fillers because it takes so long to go through all the ink that they hold.

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    Lori, I am right there with you. Kon Peki doesn't really jump out at me but everyone in our office loves it. Your ink mixing sounds really cool. I've never been bold enough to mix things up but I've always been curious.

    Do you have any other ink recipes?

  • Katy @Gouletpens

    That is an awesome Top 5 list. I have never written with that Noodler's color but it looks so great…maybe I will have to give it a go. 🙂

  • kbenton

    Yeah, I love the Pinstripe blue… It was another pride purchase, as was their Manhattan Blue 😉

    I was born & raised in NY, not far from the city; those inks are nice little reminders.

  • Lori Todd

    I would never mix different brands and, within the Noodler's realm, I wouldn't mix inks with different properties. I sent you a note in the package that I shipped yesterday. It's written with an Osmiroid 65 pen with a wicked cool fine italic nib that I purchased from Pendleton Brown at the Raleigh Pen Show. It's inked with nibmeister extraordinaireRichard Binder's, own mixture: "Binder Burgundy," which is a 1:1 mix of Waterman Purple and Sheaffer Slovenian Skrip Red. The link below was started by Pendleton and it has some very cool script photos of this mixture.


    BTW, Pendleton did some fantastic nib grinding for me on three of my Pelikan nibs, but this Osmiroid fine italic is like nothing I've seen before!

  • bfg

    This was great; fun and useful. I would love to see more ink recommendations from Brian and other Goulet folks. There are so many choices now that a little guidance would be very helpful. You could consider various types of best – best colors, best shading, best flow etc.