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Nibs: Steel vs. Gold

December 06, 2023 3 min read

Nibs: Steel vs. Gold

In the exciting world of fountain pens, where elegance meets functionality, one of the most captivating elements is undoubtedly the nib. This small but crucial component is the heart of the writing experience

Nibs: Steel vs. Gold

We've explored how to choose the nib size, but this time we will compare the most common materials: Steel and Gold.


Steel nibs are a popular choice in the fountain pen world due to their robustness and reliability. Although often perceived as less flexible compared to gold nibs, they offer a firm and durable writing experience. Their popularity lies in their ability to remain consistent and reliable over time.

Esterbrook Estie Rainforest Tibaldi Perfecta Baiadera Blue

Steel nibs: Esterbrook Estie Rainforest coated with PVD in gold and Tibaldi Perfecta Baiadera Blue

These types of nibs tend to feel more rigid; however, this firmness does not sacrifice smoothness and generates a firmer writing. Many manufacturers have perfected the technique to achieve steel nibs that write as smoothly as their gold counterparts.

Durability is one of the main strengths of steel nibs. They are resilient and can withstand daily wear and tear without losing performance. This durability makes them an ideal choice for those seeking low-maintenance pens that can withstand constant use.

Nowadays, steel nibs are considered the standard for fountain pens. However, it's essential to note that the actual material of the nib can be steel but coated with gold or another finish to achieve a different look. Despite the visual difference, their writing performance will be equal to that of a regular steel nib.


Gold nibs represent the pinnacle of luxury in the fountain pen world, offering a unique and distinctive writing experience. Most high-quality nibs are made in different levels of gold purity, blending the precious metal with appropriate elements to gain hardnesssince pure gold (24k or 1,000 microns) is too soft.

The most common blends are 14k (.585 microns), which involves 58% gold, and 18k (.750 microns or 75%), although there are even 21k nibs (87% gold). Some brands choose to perform a 24k gold plating for added prestige.

Visconti Divina Bordeaux Matte con plumín 14k y Aurora Dante Inferno con plumín 18k

Visconti Divina Bordeaux Matte with a 14k nib and Aurora Dante Inferno with an 18k nib

14k Gold:

14k nibs are a popular choice, offering a combination of smoothness and durability. They provide a smooth and comfortable writing experience.

Gold of 14 karats is a more affordable option compared to higher karats, making pens with 14k nibs accessible to a broader group of enthusiasts.

18k Gold:

18k nibs represent a higher quality in terms of gold purity. They are softer and more flexible compared to 14k, providing a writing with an extra touch of bounce.

The smoothness of 18-karat gold makes the writing experience more luxurious. This karat is a common choice for those seeking a balance between flexibility and durability.

21k Gold:

21k nibs are less common but offer an exceptionally smooth and flexible writing experience. The higher amount of gold in the nib allows for greater flexibility and adaptability to the user's writing style.

Sailor is known for offering 21k nibs in some of its high-end fountain pens, providing a premium option for writing enthusiasts.

Plumines 21k: Sailor PG Veilio Pearl Mint y Sailor PG Veilio Violet

21k nibs: Sailor PG Veilio Pearl Mint and Sailor PG Veilio Violet 

Steel nibs are a reliable and durable choice that offers a firm writing experience, while gold nibs offer greater flexibility and bounce. The choice between the two will depend on personal factors, budget, and stylistic preferences because, in the end, a good nib will always be a good nib. What do you prefer?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team, and we will advise you on the best nib for you. We'll be happy to help.

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