Back in 2015 Brian Goulet made a video and accompanying article about sheening inks. I love sheen, in fact it's a major deciding point on whether I grab an ink or not, so this should be something right up my alley, but it wasn't. The article conflated markedly differing ink characteristics, and made quite curious decisions of which inks were chosen to exemplify the topic. He also left a number of very sheening inks off the list that Goulet Pens carry - ignoring the many sheening inks that they don't carry - such as Diamine Bilberry).
The main issue with the article (I'll just talk about the article) is that in it Brian conflated sheen resulting from the ink and shimmer/glitter resulting from particles or pigments in the ink. Now I concede that there isn't a well established term for these 'shimmering' inks. There is and was, however, an established term for the shine resulting from the ink itself: sheen!
(Moving forward I will call them sheen and shimmer)
EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this might come off a little harsh against Brian. I want to stress three things: firstly that I am only commenting on Brian's Top 10 Sheening Inks article and related Q&A segments. Not any of his other work. Secondly, I have absolutely no issue with Brian's Top 10 featuring only inks from Goulet. This makes complete sense. My point was with when he brought up the definition of sheening vs shimmering in a Q&A I understood this as opening it up to the ink-world at large (as it isn't a topic mutually exclusive to Goulet Pens). Thirdly, and lastly, I want to stress that Brian has done amazing things for the community; I may not have started collecting inks and pens were it not for his 101 series (a staple for new people into fountain pens). The community wouldn't be the same or quite as large without what he's done. but that goes hand in hand with why I see Brian as a major influence on the community (despite what he might say!). Because of this I think when Brian conflates the two terms (sheening and shimmering) it does make a difference and I think that in this single instance it is detrimental.
Ever since this article and video came out I observed a marked increase in people mislabeling shimmer as sheen. In a later Q&A video's segment about sheen and shimmer, Brian questioned how much of an influence he has on people and doubted whether he could influence the creation of a standard. I would say he has already demonstrated that he does have influence and could cement a certain terminology in the lexicon. His approach, however, is not the best.
Like Brian, you may be thinking 'why does it matter?' Well there are two problems with conflating the seperate ink characteristics. Firstly that it's misleading; shimmer shimmers on all paper, and presents in a different way on the paper than sheen does. A subtle amount of sheen on a piece of paper doesn't necessarily make the ink look like Christmas wrapping but the glitter in shimmering inks does offer this more 'fun' approach to the ink. That is, just because Iroshizuku Shin-Kai has some red sheen that doesn't stop it from being a mostly clean-cut straight-laced ink suitable for a business. The shimmering inks, however, look much more fun. I can't imagine anyone suggesting Diamine Golden Oasis or J. Herbin Bleu Ocean To someone asking for business-attire-like inks. That isn't a bad thing, but it highlights that just because both glitter and the crystalline structure of sheen reflect light that doesn't mean that they both look the same. These are different characteristics of ink!
Secondly, and this is a minor point, but shimmering inks need to be shaken prior to being inked for the pen to actually pull up the glitter along with the ink. Sheening inks do not.
And thirdly, and this relates to the first, shimmering inks can be difficult to clean from pens and can clog pens when left in the pen (or otherwise?) and this is not something that sheening inks have issues with (that doesn't mean it isn't mutually exclusive, however). Sure, Diamine Majestic Blue has had clogging issues with people (not myself), but Iroshizuku Syo-Ro doesn't clog pens, and neither does Robert Oster Fire & Ice or Kobe Kitanozaka Night Blue #38. Sheen might become more prominent if you leave the pen for a while and it dries slightly, but shimmering inks have particles that settle and get into crevices that are difficult to get them out from. Unless you do a bang up job cleaning the whole pen, the next ink you use after cleaning out a shimmering ink will likely also have some subtle amounts of glitter in it!
I don't believe that these are minor issues. Conflating the two very different ink characteristics is not beneficial.
As for the curious choices I don't under stand why Brian included Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrün or Diamine Sherwood Green in his list. Sherwood green has only the barest amount of sheen on Tomoe River paper and at best Alt-Goldgrün shades well but it has absolutely no sheen on any paper.
Later in the same Q&A video mentioned above Brian suggested that sheening inks were not on peoples' radar until J.Herbin's Stormy Grey (2014) and then Diamine's Shimmertastic inks but, regardless, this thread on Fountain Pen Network with over 600 replies never mentions (as far as I could see) a shimmering ink and it was started in 2011. All or almost all of them are traditional examples of true sheen.
In the first Q&A video Brian also states that because there are so few inks that sheen and shimmer that differentiating them is unimportant. I've highlighted above why I think differentiating them is important and while I understand why in his 'Top 10 Sheening Inks' Brian only be listed inks that are buyable through Goulet Pens, here, in his answer to a Q&A question, is different. There are hundreds of inks that sheen that Goulet doesn't sell (especially made by Sailor). There are also Taiwanese inks that have glitter and Chinese inks that have glitter. There is far more than a handful of sheening or shimmering inks so that reasoning for not differentiating sheen and shimmer doesn't really hold up.
Brian also seemed to back away from this conflated definition in the later Q&A video, slightly, however the confusion still persists. Perhaps he should have named the article (and video) "Brian's top 10 Sheening and Shimmering inks". Still catchy?
As for what to call the sparkling inks… I'm not sure. I wish there was consensus. Shimmering? Sparkling? Glittering? Artificial Sheen? Shimmering works for me.
I don't like list articles in general but I'm going to finish off this post with selection of my sheenier inks. This is not intended to be considered alongside Brian's list; for one many of the inks in my list are definitely not for sale at Goulet, and also my list has 34 inks, not 7. These inks are presented on White Tomoe River and have been applied rather wetly and are in no order. Worth noting is a possibly conspicuous lack of Robert Oster inks. Rob does make a fair few sheeny inks but they aren't extremely sheeny. What makes them good is a good balance of sheen with the right colour behind it. Take Organics Studio Nitrogen Royal Blue a *truely* unique ink but it is so sheeny that you can hardly see the true base blue colour ever. Robert Oster Fire & Ice, for example, is a good bright red outline of sheen but you can easily so the contrasting and well-matched blue behind it. Rob's inks have good sheen but not a lot of sheen.
You can follow @macchiato_man on Twitter, via RSS or an email subscription for blog updates.
I was not compensated for this review and everything here is my own honest opinion. There are no affiliate links.