It seems only appropriate that the very first pen I review is the one I write most of my books with. I have tried out many different pens over the years, and have yet to fulfill my life-long quest to find the perfect pen. Swarovski has come close with two different models of pens I have fallen hopelessly in love with. They aren't perfect, but that's okay. This is the closest to perfect I've found.
TL;DR Version: I really recommend these pens.
I will start with the pen I usually write with. I have it in several different colors, but I'll focus on the one I bought first. The pink pen, imaged above, is Swarovski's breast cancer awareness pen. All profits from the sale of these pens, when purchased in store, go to breast cancer research. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing, since breast cancer is something that has impacted most people, myself included. So, when I went to purchase my first pen, the Swarovski ambassador (I believe that's what they're called in store) recommended the pink one.
So I purchased the pink one. It doesn't hurt that I really like pink.
I have written two completed novels (by hand) with these pens and their refills. I have also written large chunks of other books with these pens.
These pens come in two different styles. The first style is imaged above, featuring a slim shaft designed for female hands. I mean, let's face it. It's a pen filled with lab-created crystals. The target audience is women. The shaft is a good length for someone with small hands, allowing precise control of writing.
The second pen, featured here, has a very special surprise located within the shaft of the pen. It is a USB drive! And a pen! All in one! This is my go-to travel pen. I load up all of my novels on it as a backup, as well as a zip file of scrivener and my license key. This way, I can access my novels anywhere I go. Now, granted, if I'm going to a less-than-savory part of town, I leave my precious pen at home.
In the image here, you can see where the USB is by the black line. When the USB is not out, the silver completely pairs to the white part (or fuchsia, as my specific pen is) so the elegance of the pen is not ruined by the presence of the USB part of the pen.
The USB stick features 4 gb of memory, which is overkill for the standard novelist.
This is the most important part of the review, right? Just how well do these pens write? Well, let's just say I've introduced this pen to some gentlemen I know. I had them give it a whirl.
Despite all of its feminine charms, the pen was impressive enough they'd consider writing with it.
This amuses me to no end. In short, this is a good product. The pen uses Schmidt pen refills. These are easy to replace when they run out. You unscrew the cap of the pen, pull out the refill, and separate it from the little plastic cap on the end of the refill. You put the cap on the new refill, put it back in the pen, and screw it into place. Done! The first time you take off the cap from the refill (it screws into place) you may need to use a pair of pliers. I have had to use pliers twice on the four pens I own. But, once you take it off the first time, it unscrews easily for very quick replacement of the cartridge.
I find I can get anywhere from 50-100 moleskine pages worth of writing on a single refill, which costs about $1 to replace. One thing you may want to be aware of with the brand-new pens is that age matters on these refills. If the pen has been sitting in the store or a warehouse for a long time, you may not get as much longevity in the first ink cartridge. Buy a few extras when you first get your pen, so you don't run out of ink at a bad time!
The ink flows reliably, though sometimes I need to take my nail and clean the ball. Since this is a ballpoint pen, this is a universal problem with all ballpoint pens I've encountered. The pen will, over time, pick up all of the little bits of crud on the paper (no matter what paper you use) and potentially clog the ball. This is fixed with a quick drag of the nail over the ballpoint.
Another good thing about this pen is that the ink really does last until the dredges of the cartridge. However, once it gets near the end of its lifespan, the pen has a tendency to get spotty and temperamental. This is when I replace the cartridge for a new one.
I buy my pens and my refills directly in store. The slim-shaft pens come in a velvet sheath. The USB pen comes in a proper box. If you go into a store, request a sheath used with the slim-shaft pens. My store was more than happy to give me one, as I like putting all of my pens their little cases before storing them in my purse.
These pens are made of lightweight metal with enameled surfaces. So far as I can tell, the clear casing for the 200 crystals is a strong plexiglass or resin, not a cheap plastic or easily-broken glass. The pen is very durable. I've dropped my pens multiple times, because I'm clumsy, and have not scratched the ‘glass' or the enamel of the pen.
At $35 and $75+, these pens aren't cheap. However, the value and reliability for what you get is stellar. Considering the low costs for the refills, these pens are a much better investment than many others I've experimented with, which have refill costs of $5+.
As I mentioned before, the Schmidt Mini Ball Pen Refills cost about $1.00 each at regular retail price, and are available in store or online. I usually buy 5-10 refills at a time due to how often I am writing by hand. I would not purchase refills in more than a three to six month supply to prevent problems with the flow of ink. (Ink, despite common belief, does go stale!) It's very difficult to revitalize the ink in a cartridge like this, so I would use your best judgement on the frequency of purchasing your refills.