Friday, 27 April 2012

TWSBI Diamond 540 Fountain Pen Review

Palimpsest admits that it was the glowing Fountain Pen Geeks review that prompted the purchase of the TWSBI Diamond 540. Palimpsest wouldn’t have ordered a demonstrator (the Lamy Vista was quite sufficient) but bowing to the others’ higher wisdom hastened to order a Diamond 540 from the Writing Desk. Following the arrival of said pen, pernickety Palimpsest was too quick to comment unfavourably on the Diamond’s presentation box (too much, too plastic), on the Diamond’s body (too many diamond-shaped edges), on its cap (a screw-on, how annoying) and on its fine nib (too fine). However, Palimpsest finds that as of late the Diamond 540 has become a constant companion. What has changed?

Some time has elapsed. The nib is now conditioned nicely. There is some resistance as it glides on paper but it is a pleasant resistance with an ever so slight flex to it. Inked with J. Herbin Perle Noire (a lot of it, too, for the reservoir is of enormous capacity), the Diamond 540 performs wonderfully. Ink flow is consistent (no skipping) and the nib has the right amount of wetness. Should one wish to convert the Diamond 540 into an eyedropper, the pen’s Apple-sque presentation box comes with a silicone tube and wrench to remove the piston.

This is not a pen with a smooth body (Palimpsest is partial to smooth bodies) but the diamond-shaped facets on the barrel are attractive and glimmer in the light. You see, dear Readers, even these diamond shapes that Palimpsest found annoying at first are now described in poetic terms. Palimpsest does like them and doesn’t even mind the ribbed surface where the cap screws on. It is a pleasure too to watch the ink moving inside the Diamond and shimmering darkly.

The Diamond 540 is a substantial pen and even more so when it’s posted: it becomes this enormous (and heavy) writing instrument that people stare at when Palimpsest uses the Diamond in public places. But it’s OK. Palimpsest forgives the enormity and prefers holding the cap in the other hand. And a wonderful cap it is with its simple clip, wide band and the metallic TWSBI logo at the top set against the red background. The only thing against it: it is a screw-on not a snap-on cap. And it does take some time to screw on, which is more noticeable when one is in a hurry. But never mind. Palimpsest feels that screwing on a cap, after a writing task is finished, gives one an air of importance.

And thus, dear Readers, Palimpsest finishes this review by self-importantly screwing the Diamond’s cap on and proceeding in recommending the TWSBI Diamond 540 warmly.


  1. The TWSBI's seemed to me a good alternative for those seeking a well-made piston-filler priced well south of USD $100, which, I think is about the entry-level price for many European piston-fillers. Thanks, Palimpsest. Jack/USA

  2. It's a great pen, but mine tends to spill ink when being carried around 8^(

  3. You know, I'm not sure if it can be converted to an eyedropper. Technically, yes. But practically, I don't know. The reason is that it includes that metal collar at the end, where the piston threads are. From what I know, it's not a good idea to have ink in contact with metal parts because certain inks can contain components that react with the metal and will potentially oxidize it. I was tempted to convert mine but then I had second thoughts when I realized that I might damage it.

  4. Thanks, Matthias. I'm not a TWSBI owner, so I relied on others' reviews. I guess one of the startling aspects of the TWSBI was that its manufacturer (Taiwan?) deliberately wanted to be influenced in the design of the pen by writing gear fans worldwide.

    I found a similar sort of "corporate responsiveness" in the makers of the Zequenz-brand (Thailand, I think) bound journals. I read a good review of this extraordinarily well-made journal on a U. S. Web site. I sent the manufacturer an e-mail asking for American retailers. The manufacturer replied and encouraged my comments on their shipping (from Washington State), quality of manufacture, product appearance, etc.


  5. Thanks, Matthias. I'm not a TWSBI owner, so I've had to rely on posted reviews. What seems extraordinary to me is the extent to which the TWSBI manufacturer publicly sought the influence of writing gear fans in its design. Jack/USA