The Esterbrook Estie OS Sparkle Garnet with The Journaler Nib by Gena Salorino

From the very first moment I saw a promotional photo of this pen, I knew I wanted it. I knew I had to have it in my collection. Stunning, there is no better word to describe what I saw in that photo. I own a few vintage Esterbrooks and had thought for some time about buying a modern one, but that photo made my decision for me. It was then that my excitement grew even more when I also learned it would be available with the Journaler nib, a collaboration with Gena Salorino of Custom Nib Studio (more on that later).

When I first got the box in hand, even before opening the pen, I thought to myself how fitting it is that the box would be a beautiful red with a simple design, much like the colors of the pen. I know it is a normal Esterbrook box, but somehow it just seemed so perfect for this pen.

Upon opening the box, everything I had thought this pen would be went out the window. The promotional photos hardly did it justice. I was first greeted by a card which gave information about the Diamondcast material, which is made by McKenzie Penworks, as well as a package with a cleaning cloth, manufacturers card, and an ink cartridge. It was then that I saw just a little bit of depth to the color and a subtle sparkle. When I picked up the pen, held it in my hand, and brought it into the light it was only then that I saw the true nature of what this Diamondcast material was. My reaction was just as it was when I saw the first photo, Stunning.

I had a hard time getting a photograph that I thought would really do justice to the material, but I wanted to do my best to show just how much depth it has. This material is unlike anything else I own. From far away the pen looks like an understated red pen with just a little something extra, but close up, this is not just a sparkling top layer on a resin pen. The material itself is translucent and the diamond dust varies in both size and depth and reflects the light and the colors around it. I love how it reflects the gold of the trim and logo which I tried to capture here.

Now on to my experience with the pen. Once I got past the beauty of the material, the next thing I noticed was a combination of the size of the pen and just how well balanced this pen is. I write with my pens unposted and at 5.3 inches long unposted, with a section that is .4 inches thick, and with a full converter, the pen was neither front nor back heavy. The center of balance was very much exactly that, the center. This I can attribute not only to the weight of Diamondcast resin, but the placement of the threads, to the length and taper of the body, and the dimensions of the section. This balance and overall weight made for a very comfortable writing experience for long term use.

If someone does prefer to post the pen, while it is possible, I would not recommend it, The tapered barrel and and the way the cap is designed make it difficult to securely post and at 7.3 inches post, that is a bit long, even though it doesn’t make it too back heavy because of how light the material is. This pen is really made to be used un-posted. For me, that is fine, but if you prefer to post your pens, it is something to consider.

Earlier I mentioned that I purchased the pen with the Journaler Nib and I said “more on that later”… well, here’s later. To directly quote Gena, as stated in her own words as shown on Esterbrook’s website, the Journaler nib, a Collaboration between Gena Salorino of the Custom Nib Studio and Esterbrook, is a “medium stub grind, based on the vintage Esterbrook 9314M nib. The idea is that it’s smooth and friendly enough for everyday use, gives your writing some flair, all without being too huge for practical writing”. To be perfectly honest, I can think of no better way to describe this nib.

I often write my reviews after one full converter or cartridge fill has been used up using the same few Monteverde black inks, but this was different. I went through several inks in Red as well as the Monteverde Raven Noir in it now which I often use as a baseline. I just couldn’t put this pen down. Even though I normally rotate through multiple pens on a daily basis, I just couldn’t stop experimenting with various writing angles and writing styles and before I knew it 3 fills and colors had gone by. This nib writes with just the tiniest bit of feedback, exactly the amount I like to have. Just enough to feel that you are writing, but still easily gliding smoothly on the paper. I have been using Rhodia R pads as well as Standard Rhodia paper primarily, and even with the super smooth Rhodia paper, I have not had any issues with hard starts, skips, or any other issues with the nib.

This pen, being a limited edition, will not last long. I recommend that you pick it up sooner rather than later. There are other colors available, Tanzanite, Gold Trim as well as Montana Sapphire, Palladium Trim, but the Garnet, Gold Trim as reviewed here is my personal favorite. The MSRP is $395 with either an EF, F, M, B & 1.1 stub. The average street price is around $316. The Journaler nib reviewed here is an additional MSRP up-charge of $50 with an average street price of $40 which in my opinion is well worth it. One thing to note is that while the standard Esterbrook nib replacements are available separately, the Journaler nib is not. If you are considering the Journaler nib, go for it. You can always switch later, but not the other way around.

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