• Daniel Ouimet

Are Precious Metals Used on Writing Pens?

Updated: Aug 21

Ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, and fountain pens are generally made with some visible metal components. These parts are normally plated with precious and/or noble metals depending on which chemistry or physics definition you prefer. We and Gollum covet these metals for their luster, economic value, and durability. Most like silver, rhodium, and gold are familiar to us because of their use in our coins and jewelry like the "One Ring." I've outlined metal plating commonly used on ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, and fountain pens below within color groups and then by their relative wear resistance. Their resistance to wear closely corresponds to their price. The ratings (5/5 being the best) are my opinion but generally agree with everything I've researched.

Pen Plating with a "Silver" Color

Ballpoint twist pen with rhodium plating and red resin

Rhodium (5/5) is used by premier pen manufacturers to plate their very finest pens. It's expensive but provides the best luster and wear resistance. I like using rhodium plating as much as possible.

Mechanical pencil with chrome and satin chrome plating

Chrome and Satin Chrome (4/5) have good wear resistance and are affordable alternatives in this color group. The satin chrome has a distinctive feel as a result of the plating process.

Pen Plating with a "Gold" Color

Rollerball pen with gold titanium plating

Gold Titanium (5/5) is the only gold color plating I use as the dominant plating on a pen. Titanium gold is an alloy that easily outwears any other gold color plating like 24K or 10K gold.

Ballpoint pen with chrome and 10K gold hardware

10K Gold (4/5) is a beautiful plating when used as an accent to rhodium or chrome plating.

Pen Plating with a "Black" or "Gray" Color

Rollerball pen with black titanium plating

Black Titanium (5/5) is more of a dark

gray to my eye and is the best darker color plating available.

Ballpoint twist pen with resin body and black chrome plating

Black Chrome (3.5/5) I find to be really sharp on light color woods. I also like it with some resins that have black highlights.

Rollerball pen with satin nickel plating

Satin Nickel (3/5) is really pretty with particular woods like padauk and certain resins. The plating process also leaves it with a distinctive feel.

​​Pen Plating with a "White" Color

Satin Pearl (3/5) goes really well with resins that already have a lot going on like confetti multicolored acrylics.

Pen Plating with a "Copper" Color

Satin Copper (3.5/5) and Bright Copper (3.0/5) are some of my favorites with certain woods or resins I've intentionally mixed with copper or bronze powders.

Rose Gold (3.5/5) is hard to find but a great, warm plating that complements blue and green resins especially well.