Monday, October 29, 2012

Private Reserve Tanzanite ink review

It's been a long time since I wrote a review and here I am now, typing this from an airport waiting-lounge on another continent. In truth, I haven't been using other inks save for the one I'm reviewing now: Private Reserve Tanzanite. In what has almost become a tradition, I tested this new ink in my trusty Pilot Varsity.

Private Reserve is a new brand for me and Tanzanite may just be that perfect purple ink I've been searching for. Let's find out if it really is. But before that, I'd like to mention something. Ever since I heard about the Private Reserve brand, I made an automatic association in my mind with old cognac. Am I the only one who makes this connection?

I'm only testing a sample, but Private Reserve Tanzanite comes in a 50ml (1.7oz) bottle which retails for $8.75 or $0.18 per milliliter. This makes it middle-of-the-road, neither cheap, nor prohibitively expensive.

Color and saturation
I have a strong suspicion that the name Tanzanite comes from the semi-precious stone of the same name. As such, this is a purple ink. Dark purple, to be precise. This ink reminds me strongly of another purple ink whose color I liked, Noodler's North African Violet. However, as you might remember, that ink contributed to the ruination of one of my fountain pens so in the end I wasn't that fond of it. Private Reserve Tanzanite is darkly purple but pleasantly so. I really like its color. It is also highly saturated.

You might be forgiven to believe that PR Tanzanite doesn't shade very well, especially with a thin nib (I guess everything short of broad or italic). Well, you would  be surprised. It actually has some very nice shading, especially when applied liberally, such as I did with the q-tip. Tilting the paper towards the light will reveal the beautiful golden-red accents.

Private Reserve Tanzanite shading

None to speak of.

Being a dark ink, PR Tanzanite ghosts a little on cheap paper but otherwise behaves nicely and I can testify to that since I used it daily for over a month at work, on the cheapest copy paper possible, on both sides, without issues.

Flow and lubrication
Generally PR Tanzanite flows well in the Pilot Varsity but that pen is very well behaved as a rule. However, it seems to me that flow isn't consistent all the time. Sometimes it's wetter, other times drier. It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this and I very much doubt it's the pen. Still, in the overwhelming majority of cases PR Tanzanite flows impeccably.

Drying time
Happily, the drying times are short, between 5 and 10 seconds on photocopy paper and 10-15 seconds on Rhodia 80g.

Smearing when dry

Water resistance
Though this ink isn't labelled as waterproof, it is surprisingly water resistant as can be seen from the sample which was exposed to running water for 1 minute. Notice that the text remains completely legible even though some of the color has washed off.

Private Reserve Tanzanite has been a pleasant introduction to PR's line of inks. I'll be sure to try others from the brand. I love the color and the general behavior and I especially appreciate the added bonus of water resistance. The latter does come at a price though. It makes the ink harder to clean than your garden variety watery ink. In all, I highly recommend this ink if purple is your color.

Finally, here are the two samples of Private Reserve Tanzanite on photocopy and Rhodia 80g paper, respectively.

Private Reserve Tanzanite on photocopy

Private Reserve Tanzanite on Rhodia


  1. Excellent review. I like Private Reserve inks. Avacado is a particular favorite (though why the company insists on misspelling Avocado is beyond me).

  2. Interesting... the shading reminds me of the J. Herbin anniversary edition. Question... do you refill your Pilot Varsity?? How on earth do you do that?

  3. Welcome back. Nice ink review.

    I see the question below about refilling a Varsity. I know you are ready for that question, but could you add to the answer any information or opinions that you might have about the BIC disposable pens. Is it possible to refill those? Do you have any experience with BIC? I like my refilled pilot and preppies, but I was wondering about the BIC. The Pilot is almost getting too wet for me. The Preppy has a finer nib, I think. I don't want to deal with postage or putting together a bigger order because I have a lot of ink left. I figure to just buy them at Staples; but, no Preppies at Staples. I wonder how the BIC writes. It has to be easily refillable like the other two. Funny that you are back today. I was at Staples today looking at the BIC and wondering about it. I hope your time away has been profitable or pleasurable or positive in some way.

  4. You can pull the feed out of the thing if you're careful, right? I only have one, but the red ink is so bleedy that I don't use it much.

  5. Thanks! Maybe "Avocado" is trademarked. (joking!)

  6. Thanks! Sorry but I haven't used the BICs yet. I'm afraid I don't know much about them, except for the fact that they - apparently - exist.

  7. Sorry for the belated reply but I do fill my Varsity. I've filled it almost a dozen times.

  8. No worries, thank you for the link! I should have just searched on your site but my brain apparently doesn't work properly lol. Thanks so much :)

  9. Thanks for this thorough review of this very pleasingly purple ink!

  10. :) Get it! Finally a good p.o.v. Thanks, I enjoyed.