Have a favorite go to pen style, but looking to venture into the world of luxury pens? The luxury pen world can be daunting when you see the prices, lists of precious metals, and foreign words like appointments, but don't stress!
I have here a list of 5 things to consider when buying a luxury pen and little comparative guide between your favorite cheap go-to pen and some great name brand alternatives:
- Writing Style
- Price Point
- Additional Services
How to Choose a Luxury Pen
1) Writing Style
First off, what type of pen would you like to get? There are really just three types: Ballpoints, Fountain Pens, Rollerballs
Ballpoints are a pen with a small ball at the tip that rolls to release ink. You probably have at least 12 in your random-things drawer. They last a good long while due to their oil-based in that doesn't dry out easily.
Fountain Pens are a pen with a container or cartridge that holds ink that flows through a nib. They have liquid-based ink so they write incredibly smooth and feel real fancy to use. Fountain Pens do require a level of maintenance.
Rollerballs are ballpoints with liquid based ink. Think you smashed the writing mechanism of a ballpoint with the ink and smoothness of a fountain pen. Gel pens fall into this category. Personally, I prefer a rollerball as you get the best of both worlds.
The question to ask yourself here is: How am I going to use this pen?
Ballpoints are ideal for someone writing constantly through the day or writing on the go ie: taking notes, writing on a worksite, or those who need a hassle-free experience guaranteed.
Rollerballs work best for those who are sitting down to write or are constantly signing documents.
Fountain pens are perfect for an experience. Great for sitting down to write or making an impression, watch out with this one. Many people get a taste of using a fountain pen and become dedicated users.
Luxury pens largely come down to this category. What makes the pen special outside of how well it writes? The quality of the build and the presentation of the pen.
The first consideration is the material build. For luxury pens, you will not see many plastic options. Here you are looking for things that list crafted materials like metal, ebonite, precious wood, or celluloid construction.
Good construction materials make a last. Nobody wants to spend $20-$2000 on a pen that can only be used once and falls apart. Luxury pens are built to be vintage antiques one day.
The other consideration are the materials of the finish and trim. Here we are talking about 10kt clips, high-gloss hand tooled lacquer barrels, and precious stone embellishments.
Luxury pens are meant to make an impression. Nothing like platinum-plating or sterling silver to make the eyes pop.
3) Price Point
For some people $20 for a pen is straight luxury, for others they won't blink an eye at $150+ for an entry level luxury pen. Deciding on your budget at the beginning of your buying process is key to getting the most out of your purchase.
Pens under $100 are going to focus more on metal construction and some light precious material usages.
Pens over $100 will feature their precious materials.
Anything $500+ will often be completely hand constructed with only the rarest materials.
There are two ways to go about luxury pen uniqueness: editions and personalization
Luxury brands will often focus on limited or special edition pens. This can run from only 100 pens made to a one-of-a-kind pen. These pens are meant to be collector's items.
Personalization will also add a one-of-a-kind novelty to pen. This can range from a custom colored lacquer to a handwritten engraving etched into the pen.
5) Additional Services
What else comes with the pen? Luxury pens often come with some added benefits. These include: cases, pen rests, extra refills, and warranties on the construction of the pen.
Luxury Pen Alternatives to Your Favorite Popular Pens
Now that you know a little bit about finding a luxury pen, here are some entry level luxury pens that compare to the tried and true daily favorites: the Pilot G-2, The Zebra F-301, the Stick Bic, and the Uni-ball Rolling Pen. Each pen has a $20-40 better option and a $50-150 best option.
The Pilot G-2
A truly beloved everyday pen, the Pilot G-2 is an incredible entry level pen that demands loyalty through its smooth flow, fine point, and reliability. That being said, it’s not necessarily the kind of pen you can give as a nice gift or show off in a boardroom. Here are some of our Dayspring Pens offerings that rival the G-2 and won't disappoint.
Better - Parker Jotter Gel Pen
A Dayspring staff and personal favorite, the Jotter has been in continuous production by Parker since 1954 for a reason. It shares about the same size, width, and weight as the G-2. All metal construction means it can take the beating of a daily user that gets dropped, crushed in the bottom of a bag, and all the wear and tear of daily use. A firm click mechanism also makes the Jotter super satisfying to click.
- • 0.55mm tip for those looking for fine writing line
- • unbroken, fast drying gel ink line when writing
- • light weight durable build
- • affordable price with engraving included
- • slim barrel size
- • easy to replace refill
- • two year Parker mechanical warranty
- • no ergonomic rubber grip like the G-2
- • nothing else really...it’s a pretty dang great pen...I’m bias.
Best - Cross Century II Rollerball
The Cross Century II Rollerball pens are unquestionably luxury pens. The preferred pen of the Obama Administration, the Century II offers the reliability of a professional grade gel pen in a durable body, high quality finish, and precious metal appointments.
- • medium point
- • steady ink flow
- • durable body
- • available with high-gloss lacquers or premium metal finishes
- • Lifetime Cross mechanical warranty
- • fancy pens have fancy prices…
- • losing this pen will be stressful
The Zebra F-301
Known for its distinguished look and stainless steel body, the Zebra F-301 is a popular go to for its just-right barrel size, durability, and firm plastic grip.
Better - Braxton Ballpoint
If what you are looking for most in a pen is uninterrupted ink flow and easy writing, the Braxton Ballpoint takes those principles and adds a little flair. A medium-fine point, the Braxton offers quick drying that doesn’t bleed across the page. The pen has all metal construction and 18kt gold plated finish. Ink can easily be refilled. It also automatically comes as a set with a matching Braxton capped rollerball. Expect a more medium barreled pen compared to the slimmer barrel of the Zebra and twist instead of click action to release the writing point.
- • uninterrupted ink flow
- • comes in set with a Rollerball
- • medium barrel size
- • medium fine point
- • all metal construction
- • no finer point available
- • capped rollerball
Best - Cross Tech3+
The Cross Tech 3+ is a huge step up with its technical engineering and professional design. A multifunctional pen, the Tech3+ holds two ballpoints (one black ink, one red ink), a mechanical pencil, and a screen stylus all in about the same sized diameter of the Zebra. Twisting the barrel releases the various writing styles and the Cross ballpoint design leaves a clear, fine line that works well on all paper types from high gloss to notebook paper. With durable all metal construction, the Tech3+ isn’t so fancy you're afraid to use it, but looks a heck of a lot better in an important meeting than pulling out the Zebra.
- • two ballpoints and a mechanical pencil in one
- • oily smooth ink flow that doesn’t skip
- • medium-fine point
- • variety of quality lacquer finishes
- • lifetime Cross mechanical warranty
- • takes special Cross refills
The Stick Bic
Ah the Stick Bic...we have all used it at the doctor’s office or borrowed one from a friend. It's the most common and used ballpoint in the world. It’s the kind of pen you don’t mind losing or buying in packs of 100. Why do we like Stick Bics? They are easy, abundant, and who cares if they work when you need them...their cheap. Here are some ballpoints that will massively elevate the writing of the convenient Stick Bic user.
Better - Cross Click
A ballpoint through and through, the Cross Click Pen focuses pretty much entirely on the writing. This simple pen doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles. It is a metal pen, maybe covered in a matte lacquer finish depending on the color you choose. Its purpose is to click open, write well, click closed, and get thrown right back into your bag. A sleek slim barrel, sturdy tip, and satisfying click all back up the .7mm point.
- • .7mm medium point black ink
- • easily refillable
- • click action
- • Cross lifetime mechanical warranty
- • slimmer barrel size
- • no finer point size available
Best - Waterman Hemisphere Ballpoint
Hands down a premium, Waterman has built its over 135 year old business on quality and reliability. The quality of their nibs and points can be seen by the fact that 100 year old pens are still being used today. The key to a Waterman ballpoint is that it will look incredible, work flawlessly, and last a lifetime or longer. High quality materials make the pen durable, but visually pleasing. Decades of designers and craftsmen have worked to refine and perfect the feel of the ball on the paper, the responsiveness of the ink, and the weight of this pen.
- • reliable, all metal construction
- • high glass lacquer or stainless steel finish
- • precious metal finishes
- • twist-action ballpoint release prevents accidental opening
- • three year Waterman warranty against defects
- • comes standard medium point blue ink in pens
The Uni-ball Roller Pens
If you are a fan of the Uni-ball Roller Pen, you are probably looking for the smooth, fast drying, liquid flow of a good gel pen. The key to this pen isn’t necessarily the feel of the body, it is all about how it writes. You also probably hate lending them out or losing them so you keep track of this bad boy. Let’s look at some luxury brands that will hold up to the Uni-ball.
Better - Cross Classic Century Rollerball
Arguably the most iconic and most highly rated Cross pens, the Classic Century is a good ol’ pen for the fans of a slim barrel. Cross guarantees an uninterrupted ink flow and the pen is very well balanced with or without the cap posted on the end. This pen is meant to last for 40+ years and is easily refillable and portable. All in all, it will only disappoint if you don't like slim pens.
- • 7mm gel rollerball ink in pen
- • all metal construction
- • black lacquer grip
- • lifetime mechanical warranty
- • slightly slimmer barrel than the Uni-ball
- • no finer points available
Best - Waterman Expert Rollerball
One of the most highly ranked and celebrated pens by the brand, the Waterman Expert, like all Waterman pens, is just a step above. Completely uninterrupted flow, almost no bleeding, quick drying times...and that’s just how the pen writes. Ultimately, with this pen you are buying the surety of over a hundred years of engineering. As a fountain pen company, Waterman understand liquid ink better than most. The pen has sturdy construction, a comfortable cigar shape, and fine metal appointments so it looks and feels great in your hand. I have never been let down by a Waterman pen, especially not the rollerballs.
- • all metal construction
- • high gloss finishes and fine metal appointments
- • enamel brass barrel gives balanced weight
- • will fit Pilot G2 refills
- • classy
- • three year Waterman mechanical warranty
- • you’re on your own for cons with this pen.
Welcome to the world of luxury pens. There are so many options and varieties for whatever your budget or whim is. Ultimately, you are looking for something that writes incredibly well and will always look great in your hand or pocket.
If you have any questions or thoughts on the Luxury Pen World, feel free to leave a comment!