Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Grand TWSBI Review - Part 3. A Review of the TWSBI Diamond 540 Fountain Pen

Welcome back to the Grand TWSBI Review! If this is your first time reading part of this series, I  recommend that you read the introductory post as well as the review of the TWSBI Diamond 530. However, prior reading of those posts is not necessary - welcome to the review of the TWSBI Diamond 540 fountain on!

First Impressions (8)
My first impressions of the 540... “Hmm, okay... What changed?” I was of course referring to the fact that the TWSBI Diamond 530 and 540 are almost cosmetically identical. To my eye, nothing has changed; we will get to the actual changes, shortly. The 540 still carries an initially intriguing factor.

Appearance (8)
I ended up trying the amber-colored Diamond 540 of which I was initially very uncertain, regarding the color. Over time, it has grown on me, or perhaps I have merely become accustomed to its look. Strangely, the amber even seems to go with the silver accents, fairly well. (On the other hand, gold accents would have blended too much, and TWSBI does/did not have gold accents on the Diamond 540.) The pen lines are clean, and the diamond panels on the barrel are subtle in a good way. The amber is not my favorite of the three colors (the other two being smoke and sapphire), but it is a unique color option.

Design/Size/Weight (10)
There are two primary differences between the TWSBI Diamond 540 and its predecessor, the 530. Foremost between these is the increased ink capacity to 30% more than what the 530 could hold, which is a relatively substantial number, when speaking in terms of milliliters. Secondly, TWSBI has improved the ease with which the cap screws on the body (the improvement was to the threads). While I never noticed a significant issue with the 530 (cap), testing the two pens, side-by-side, certainly proves a different feel.

The Diamond 540 has a light to moderate heft and is by no means heavy. Posting the cap leads to a very back-heavy feel, but the intention was not to make the cap postable. Still present on the 540 are the nib-shielding cap insert, the o-ring to help seal the cap, and the special “no mess” filling system, wherein the entire section may easily be removed to allow for filling from the TWSBI Diamond 50 and Diamond 50P inkwells.

The Diamond 50 still carries the stigma of having been reported time and time again to crack. I have not had this issue, while testing the 540, but it is known, and TWSBI promises a fix in the next Diamond series incarnation, the 580. Thus, my rating stands at an actual 9.75/10, as the pen is improved over the 530 but still receives quite a few reports of the cracking.

Nib (10)
In looking back at my review of the Diamond 530, specifically the nib, I noticed that I rated the nib a 10/10. However, there are two main differences between that nib and this one. First, that nib was a medium, and this one is a fine. The fine has quite a bit of feedback - just a touch more than I feel a fine nib should have. Unfortunately, on some papers, this “tooth” leads to a bit of a dragging feeling, rather than a glide. The second difference, which may or may not be related to the first, is that I believe the 530s had Schmidt-brand nibs, while the nibs of the 540 are made by Bock. Rating the nib a 9.5 actual on account of the over-feedback. Width-wise, I would say it is comparable to a Lamy fine nib.

Filling System (10)
Just as with the Diamond 530, the 540 has a great piston filling system, and I could not detect a noticeable difference in the smoothness of operation. For cleaning, everything disassembles nicely with the included tool, and the built-in system for filling from the Diamond 50 or Diamond 50P inkwell works great.

Cost and Value (10)
As I mentioned in my review of the Diamond 530, the Diamond 540 is now out of production, having been replaced by the Diamond 580. That being said, TWSBI still “supports” the 540, and they are very helpful, when it comes to replacing a cracked section, etc. If you find one of these still for sale, I highly recommend making the purchase, as it is a great value and worth the investment.

Conclusion (9)
(9.21/10 actual score)
I think what brought the score of the 540 down for me, as compared to the 530, was the color. If I had been testing the sapphire (or maybe even the smoke) 540, I think it would have easily been a 10/10 overall. That said, if you like the amber color, great! Overall, as I mentioned in my review of the 530: If you can find one of these, buy one. If you would rather get a new pen, buy a Diamond 580. I personally believe that the TWSBI Diamond series make for great, reliable writing instruments for the new user or fountain pen veterans.

Have you tried the Diamond 540 and the Diamond 530? What do you think of one versus the other? How do you feel about the limited color options?

Feel free to post any questions or comments you might have!
This post was both unsolicited and uncompensated.


  1. Hi, enjoying your blog very much as I love both tea and fountain pens. I actually really like the amber colour of this pen (or at least the way it appears in photos) and am tempted to buy it now!

    1. Hi, I am glad you liked it! If the amber color speaks to you, I would go for it and make the purchase. The color does work well with the accents and the design of the pen. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of the Pelikan M205 highlighter pen.

  2. I have the sapphire 540 in an EF nib. It is my absolute favorite "go to" pen out of a collection of about 24 fountain pens. Feels great. Writes well and consistently. It is easy to clean and it is just plain gorgeous.

  3. Replies
    1. I hope to continue the review series soon!