Diamine is an old name in British inks though it’s only been called Diamine for the last 54 years. Established as T Webster and Co. in London in 1864 the company moved to Liverpool in 1925 and in 1964 changed its name to Diamine. Diamine not only make their own inks but inks for other companies such as Yard-o-Led.
It is not clear why the name was changed to Diamine. A diamine is an organic compound containing two amines. They are found in a number of different products but with respect to inks the only think I could find is that they have an effect on dye solubility and can shift the colour of any colourant used.
Merlot is a dark blue wine grape variety. They can be found as a varietal grape but more commonly are used for blending especially with cabernet sauvignon, tending to soften the wine. The name Merlotis thought to be derived from the French word for blackbird, merle. It is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux region of France.
The grapes may be a bluish colour but the wine isn’t so I was expecting something similar to a good merlot, a deep reddish purple colour.
The swatches I made were very ‘wine coloured but the writing experience was not the same unless I used really good quality paper.
Starting with a drop, in this case a rather large drop of ink on absorbent paper. This was very similar to a Merlot, the centre was deep and reminded me of chocolate, the edges lighter and what most would call ‘wine coloured’. This held some promise that the ink might be a useful everyday colour.
The col-o-ring and tomoe river swatches were very similar though the col-o-ring was slightly darker – had more purplish tones. I would call these swatches grape coloured so maybe Merlot is what we all think of when we describe something as grape coloured. They didn’t however look at dark as the original swatch.
I started my test writing on Rhodia paper. This is not really a go to paper for me but I have a few Rhodia pads lying around which are good for this. The colour was a purplish brown with minimal shading apparent. Dry times also not that great.
I followed the Rhodia with cheap notebook paper and started to have problems with ink flow. I don’t think this was an ink issue but more a problem with the pen and the paper. I have had flow problems before with this pen so it probably wasn’t the best for this test but once I got back to a quality paper the flow issues stopped. On the cheaper paper there was some feathering and a modicum of bleed through. Again the writing looked quite dark
The last paper was Tomoe River 52gm and I was reminded why this is considered the best paper for fountain pens. It really does bring out all the characteristics of an ink. Suddenly the ink was merlot (wine) coloured.
It is quite a lovely colour on Tomoe River with more shading apparent and a better dry time than on Rhodia but not as good as the cheap paper. If I used nothing but this paper Merlot definitely could become a favourite much used colour, unfortunately at work I don’t get this quality of paper and on cheaper paper it is disappointing.
I have written on white paper for each test and yet I know the colour looks different in each photo e.g. the cheap paper looks blue, as if I have photographed in shadows. I want to reassure anyone reading this all the photos were taken in the same location within seconds of each other. There is the same amount of shadow / daylight for each of them.
Last but not least is my water fastness test and here Merlot was a disappointment. It is not marketed as a waterproof ink but I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the inks I have tested, Merlot was a complete washout.
I thought Diamine inks would be like J Herbin inks, available everywhere. Most American web sites have them. The standard inks are available in 80 and 30ml bottles. A lot of the places I have previously bought from in Australia don't carry Diamine inks except Pencity at AUD $26.95 for 80ml (I could not find the 30ml bottles on their web site), they also have every colour available and Diamine makes A LOT of different colours. The best value for money is Penclassics NZD $24.95 for 80ml and $10.50 for 30ml, postage is very reasonable but they do not carry the full range.