Fountain Pen Nib Materials

Ask most fountain pen enthusiasts, and they'll 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 materials used for nibs: gold, and stainless steel. The prices of pens can range anywhere from a few dollars to thousands and up…and once you hit a certain threshold around $200, gold nibs begin to come standard on most pens, needing a really good reason to still be stainless steel at that price.

Gold nibs are most often available in either 14k or 18k weights. Sailor also makes a 21k gold nib.

In this video, I look to clarify the difference between gold and steel nibs, and what you can expect when shopping for a pen in certain price ranges. Here's what I cover in the video:

  • Gold and Steel Nibs, what's the difference? (0:25)
  • Nib color/coatings, such as LAMY steel and black nibs, and Pilot VP gold or rhodium nibs (4:00)
  • Prices of fountain pens and what nibs to expect (5:30)

I've spoken at length with Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Company about the difference of gold and steel nibs. He's actually written a great article about this very issue that I encourage you to check out.

2023 note: since the making of this video 11 years ago, the price of gold has skyrocketed, and inflation has caused other costs to rise that also factor into the final selling price for a fountain pen. So the price thresholds mentioned in the video may be a bit dated compared to what you might expect nowadays.