February 22, 2019

We’ve said it before. A good nib is what makes a good fountain pen.

But there’s still an ongoing debate on which kind of nib should be adapted in the fountain pen world and which should be evicted.

Most fountain pen enthusiasts would probably say the most important part of any fountain pen is the nib, as that’s what actually touches the paper while you write. As you investigate into different types of fountain pens, you’ll find that there are two main distinctions of nibs: gold and stainless steel. But that was before the Genius Iridium came to play.

The battle between the gold and stainless steel nib seemingly shifted to gold versus genius iridium in an instant.

While there are still a lot of fountain pen users who haven’t tried Genius Iridium nibs, the market for fountain pens using such type of nib material is starting to grow relatively.

Pen users who tried Genius Iridium for the first time were amazed at how the nib performs.

In fact, we sent our Dryden Designs Bamboo Fountain Pen (which uses Genius Iridium like our other fountain pens) to several pen bloggers and Marek Rogalski, a fountain pen enthusiast and owner of Not Only Pens blog site, had some good things to say about the Genius Iridium nib.

“Steel nib is marked as Genius Iridium Germany and writes wet and very smoothly with a little whisper. It gives a juicy medium line which I really like!”

More calligraphy influencers whom we recently collaborated with also testified to the smoothness of the nib. They were surprised too as they usually only used gold nibs.

The price point of gold nibs, though, can hit a certain threshold around $150-200. This makes Genius Iridium a good alternative.

Gold Versus Genius Iridium

Iridium is a silvery metal of the platinum group, notable for its hardness, resistance to corrosion, and rarity. Naturally-occurring iridium alloys were used for tipping gold dip pen nibs and nibs for older fountain pens. These alloys were unrefined and could contain as much osmium and ruthenium as iridium.

Pen makers have been experimenting with different tipping alloys, some of which contained little or no iridium at all. These materials were still not fully refined, so nibs predating the 1940s often display considerable variation in the hardness and homogeneity of their tipping material.

It appears that no modern nibs use tipping material containing iridium, even though some are explicitly marked "Iridium Tipped". Regardless of the material's actual composition, "Iridium" has become and remains the standard term for the hard material used to tip a nib.

However, Dryden Designs, to comply with its criteria of affordability, uses Genius Iridium on its modern fountain pens.


Gold is a relatively soft material, making many fountain pen users, most especially those who do calligraphy, to choose it. But 14K gold is still hard enough to stand up to considerable wear. This is especially the case if the tip is fairly broad and the writer is not heavy-handed.


Considerations

As mentioned earlier, the pen’s nib comes directly in contact with the writing surface. Hence, it has to sustain maximum wear and undergoes mechanical fatigue. So the most suitable material should have the properties of hardness and fatigue resistant.

Conclusively, given these facts, both Gold and Genius Iridium should share some space in the market place. Both work well, maybe for different writing purposes, but they will surely not disappoint. When it comes to smoothness, our verdict is “it’s a tie.” But if you are after more flexibility, then choose Gold. And if you prefer a more durable and cost-saving nib, then go with the Genius Iridium nib.


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