BENU – Briolette: Arabian Night Fountain Pen Review

  • Where to buy: BENU Pens [here]
  • Price: $68 (£48 GBP, correct at time of writing, 26.09.17)
  • Recommend? – This is a very unique pen. Has a lot of character but I understand why it might not be to everyone’s tastes due to the design. If this sort of ‘out going’ design is what you enjoy then I highly recommend, especially at such a fantastic price. There are many designs of this pen, as well as other models offered by BENU.

During my A level studies (and no doubt during university, too) I had to write quite a lot of essays. I’m someone who gathers lots and lots of ideas and it’s all in my head but when I come to write.. Pfft. The words just don’t look the way I thought they would in my head. Once I gather my thoughts logically, I can begin writing something coherent. This is something I don’t think I can promise on delivering for this review because there is so much that I want to talk about regarding this pen that I don’t know where on Earth to start!

But as we’re talking about the Earth, let’s talk about a country on said planet – specifically a company coming from that country: BENU pens from Russia.

BENU fountain pen review Briolette Arabian Nights

I went into this completely blind. I have never used a pen from Russia before. With German pens you can (often) be sure of getting slightly wider nibs and (typically) conservative designs. From Japan you could expect a pen with some maki-e art and a  slightly finer nib. But as the saying goes, from Russia with love, and yep. This pen seems loving. Something that I really do love that is an optional extra from BENU is a pen holder. How cute and caring is that?

BENU fountain pen Briolette review

The pen holder mimics crystals and the inspiration behind the Briolette collection are gemstones. Not in the same way as Pelikan Edelstein’s ink range, but rather in the belief that in the same way we give beautiful gemstones great cuts, we should also be giving that same care and attention to other visually appealing things. As a result, the pens within this collection have a cut faceted design, which also serves a handy utilitarian purpose. There are 8 pens, currently, in this design collection and the one that I have is called Arabian Nights. Which if you are familiar with the story book of the same name, I think you’ll recognise the likeness.

Design

All the Briolette pens are modelled with a black base and are then made unique by having different colours and patterns on the different models. Arabian Nights has a purple design with what I could only describe as gold flakes. When I first received the pen and looked at it, I was a little wary as I thought it would flake off, but the gold is embedded within the material so you don’t have to worry about any gold dusting your surroundings. I’m someone who prefers gold over silver and I’m quite the fan of purple (blue will always be number one though) so to me the colours are very appealing. However, if you still enjoy the design but not necessarily the colour scheme then you might be able to find something else out of the 8 pens offered that tickles your fancy. It’s worth mentioning that silver (for a lack of a better term) ‘flakes’ are also available on some models. Additionally, if you’re into matching your inks with your pens then I think a shimmering ink would be brilliant. In particular, Diamine have just come out with a new Shimmertastic ink called ‘Arabian Nights’ which of course matches this particular pen. However, the shimmer is silver and I think Wine Divine would actually be better suited for this pen (at time of writing, the 2017 Shimmertastic inks aren’t available).

BENU briolette fountain pen review

The Briolette is a modern take on something classic. It’s a cigar shaped pen, but the facets give it another level of depth and intrigue. The facets also mean that the pen won’t roll away on a desk as the pen lacks a clip. But why would you worry about it rolling around? You have a cool pen holder to keep it in! If a clip is important to you but you like the aesthetic then you might want to consider their Supreme range of pens which feature a clip. However, they are ~double the price.

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Size comparison left to right: TWSBI Eco, Pilot Capless, BENU Briolette, Pelikan M620 Piccadilly Circus, Pelikan M800
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Size comparison left to right: TWSBI Eco, Pilot Capless, BENU Briolette, Pelikan M620 Piccadilly Circus, Pelikan M800

The pen is a twist cap (two turns) and what get underneath is an interesting look. The step down is quite steep (though the threads aren’t sharp or anything like that: it’s a long section so don’t worry about it being uncomfortable) and it looks almost like a kit-pen. Though, it lacks the end of the pen where it gets thinner than the rest of the body and so the Briolette doesn’t look ugly (in my opinion) like kit pens. Just to make clear, however, this isn’t a kit pen.

Due to the way the pen is shaped, you cannot post it, but this isn’t really necessary as the pen feels comfortable in the hand and is a size many people will find appropriate.

BENU fountain pen review

The pen fills by using a standard international cartridge or converter.

Nib (design)

In terms of nib design (you can find performance in the paragraph below), I thought the nib was branded with a “B” for BENU, but then I started writing and put two and two together and the B is there to denote the nib grade. This is the first time that I have used a Schmidt nib, but I do love how the nib grade is stamped on the nib as it is more interesting to look at than what you find on other nibs. So the nib is unbranded, which may irk some people but as far as I’m concerned, as long as it writes then I’m happy. I must say though, I think this is the prettiest of the nibs amongst stock German manufacturers such as Bock and JoWo. Other than the “B” for broad, the nib is inscribed with scroll work and “Schmidt iridium point”. The colour of the nib (gold or silver) will be the same as the ‘flakes’ on the body of the pen.

BENU fountain pen review

Nib (performance)

The Briolette pens come with a stainless steel Schmidt nib, but because I have gold flakes on the body on this pen, I have a gold coloured nib. You can also find Schmidt nibs on the Retro 51 fountain pens.

In terms of usability, it came as a bit of a shock to the system as I have fallen in love with finer nibs lately – particularly Japanese fines. However, I found the writing experience to be pleasurable both in the way the nib felt and how the pen felt in my hand.

BENU fountain pen review

The nib options that BENU offer are fine, medium & broad.

But you’re interested in how the nib performs. I experienced no skipping at all with either slow or fast writing. The feed kept up incredibly well. In regards to wetness, I would call it medium – I certainly wouldn’t seek to make it wetter. Not a gusher, but certainly not poor. If it’s line variation you’re looking for, you might be disappointed. It isn’t a nail, but certainly more stiff than it is forgiving. Where it does excel is in reverse writing. Slightly scratchy (it’s actually more like feedback than scratch, but if you orientate it wrong then you can cut into the paper slightly) but you go down to a fine nib, but it doesn’t actually dry up which really impressed me.

BENU fountain pen review writing

Conclusion

I said above that the pen is a modern take on something classic and I think that’s a great way to sum it up. BENU have come out with a range of different finishes on these pens to ensure that they can appeal to everyone. Of course, if a slightly ostentatious (and I don’t say this in a bad way) pen is not something that’s for you, then this certainly won’t be your cup of tea. The price point of the pen is also very forgiving, especially when you consider other pens that have recently come onto the market (such as the Manuscript ML1856 I reviewed a while ago) where the cost doesn’t really suit the pen. For £48* you’re getting a beautiful pen at a beautiful price. The pen holder comes in at an additional £18.50* which is optional, as well as optional extra nib units all for £11*. What would be great to see in the future is an option for gold nibs, but the steel nibs write fine and have no issue with them; I just know some people do prefer gold nibs.

*Correct at time of writing as BENU have their prices listed in USD. It is correct with the currency exchange on 26.09.17

All in all, I am very impressed with this pen. I look forward to seeing if there are any advancements in the Briolette line, as well as other pens that BENU come out with in the future.

Measurements

  • Capped: 138mm
  • Uncapped: 126mm
  • Posted: N/A

Below you can find a handwritten review of the pen. Apologies for the less than amazing quality; I moved into my university room less than a week ago so it seems I still need to play about with my printer. However, images above show how the pen writes and I hope they are useful to you.

Disclaimer: The pen and pen holder were sent to me on behalf of BENU pens in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was provided and all views expressed are my own.

Handwritten review using Diamine Scarlett on Fabriano 90gsm dot-grid A4 paper:

BENU fountain pen review BrioletteBENU fountain pen review BrioletteBENU fountain pen review Briolette

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