Monday, May 4, 2020

Fountain Pen Review: BENU Tessera Amber


When Moscow-based BENU launched their fountain pens in early 2016, I was mesmerized. I was so impressed by their pens' vibrant color combinations and material textures. I love their colorful, shiny, and pearlescent pen barrels, some of which have distinctive gold and silver inserts. BENU even have pens with golden and silver leaf inserts — sparkling, shining, blazing! When I reviewed a BENU Classic Ghost White Silver a year later, it was magical. 

BENU, whose name and brand logo comes from the ancient Egyptian deity Bennu, a self-created being linked with the sun, creation, and rebirth and who may have been the inspiration of Phoenix in Greek mythology, has come a long way in creating writing instruments with a unique character and instantly recognizable look. Five years have seen their excellent team create one magical pen after another. The Classics have been discontinued, but now they have more pens from the following collections: MinimaBrioletteChameleonSupremeHexagonTattooScepter, and the Tessera series, one of which is in this review.

BENU's fountain pens are now presented in elegant white boxes with gold imprint of their logo, replacing their previous gray pen boxes. The Tessera fountain pen was inside a white "penvelope" set on a bed of thin strips of paper. A sheet printed with fountain pen care instructions is also included in the box.

When I saw the Tessera Amber fountain pen on BENU's website last year, it was love at first sight. The pen's color combination captivated me — the mix of semi-translucent amber, dark brown swirls, and silver ribbons is beautiful and truly eye-catching. The body's design intrigued me, and BENU's Kate Dmitrieva educated me about the Tessera's design inspiration: mosaic art. 

The BENU Tessera Collection is inspired by mosaic art created from tesserae – cube-shaped tiles made from colored glass, or clear glass backed with metal foils. BENU has recreated the magic of the Byzantine era, St. Sophia Cathedral in Kievan Rus', Lomonosov’s masterpieces, and the art nouveau of renowned Russian artists V.M. Vasnetsov and M.A. Vrubel in this beautiful series. The play of light on the faceted stone-like surface of these pens creates an effect that is beautiful and radiant.


BENU launched the Tessera Collection in September 2019, inspired by mosaic art and with tessera as the key design element. The Collection offers both fountain pens and rollerball pens in four stone-like radiant finishes: Garnet, Blue Quartz, Amethyst, and Amber. All four are beautiful, shiny pens, but Amber will always be my favorite! BENU has also made a turquoise Tessera fountain pen, but it's exclusive to the US, and will only be made available to BENU dealers in the USA.

Alex Semanin, Co-Founder of BENU and the creator and chief designer of the Tessera Collection said, “We admire the tessera technique in all variants – in simple forms used for decorative purposes and in most complex forms used in art. Our newest collection of fountain pens celebrates mosaic art, the most complex and profound form of this technique that has a long history globally and in Russia.”


The Tessera's design features a structured pattern of tesserae in varied sizes, reflecting light differently and adding vividness, radiance, and depth to the faceted surface. Colored waves on a solid black surface seem to imitate the texture of marble, agate, and amber which are often used in creating a mosaic. The Tessera has exceptional gloss and shine, and this pen's cap, section, and barrel are spotless, shiny,  and simply flawless. 

Tessera pens are made from acrylic resin, an extraordinarily weatherproof and durable material. Capped, this pen weighs around 25 grams, and approximately 19 grams when uncapped, which is just right in the hand. The Tessera's screw-on cap can be easily posted, as the barrel end is slightly tapered for this. 

This standard full-sized fountain pen measures 5.5 inches long when capped, 5.25 inches without the cap, and 6.75 inches when posted. It's a well-built fountain pen and it's just right for daily use in note-taking, journaling, and even sketching.

BENU's Tessera fountain pens can be filled with ink using cartridges or converters. 
This pen's easy to take apart for cleaning.

The Tessera's size and length allow for inking with standard international long cartridges or converters. BENU is thoughtful to include an international non-proprietary converter in their fountain pens, so a Tessera purchase already includes a converter. One more thing that I love about the Tessera fountain pen is that it's so easy to fully take apart. I usually do that when I am cleaning my fountain pens before storage, or if I am reinking them, so I am happy that it's easy to take apart this pen's section and thoroughly clean the nib and feed holder, feed, and nib. I can even take apart the converter if needed.

BENU's logo is imprinted on the Tessera's cap ring.
The Tessera's cap's clip and ring are made from stainless steel, adding more gloss and shine to the pen. BENU has made an excellent choice in using stainless steel for their pens' cap trims. Stainless steel is durable, and is corrosion–, scratch–, and tarnish–resistant. It also looks good against the brown–silver swirls of the Amber's cap.
The Tessera's tapered barrel is truly captivating. The varying sizes of tesserae with different colors and translucence reflect light beautifully. The acrylic resin also shows exceptional gloss and shine.
The Tessera sports a stainless steel #6 Schmidt nib available in Fine, Medium, or Broad. BENU remembered my nib preference and sent the Amber with a smooth, juicy Broad nib.
The stainless steel Schmidt nib unit in BENU Tessera fountain pen.

My first BENU fountain pen was the Classic Ghost White Silver, a shorter, clipless pocket pen. The Tessera, on the other hand, is a standard full-length fountain pen, sharing the same length as a Lamy 2000, Conklin Duragraph, or Lamy Safari/Al-star. Its middle part is as thick as an Edison Collier. It's well-balanced and comfortable to use despite its thick middle section.
The Tessera pen shares the same length as a Lamy 2000 or Conklin Duragraph, but it has a thick middle section. 

Uncapped, the Tessera becomes a longer pen than most full-sized pens. It's now longer than the Lamy 2000 and Lamy Safari/Al-star, and other fountain pens with a #6 nib such as Conklin Duragraph and Edison Collier. It's now at the same length with a Bexley Intrepid at 5.3 inches. Did you notice the Tessera's long section, though? This fountain pen has the longest section I have ever seen, measuring up to 2.6 inches.
The Tessera has the longest fountain pen section I have ever seen, measuring up to 2.6 inches.

To test how the Tessera fountain pen writes, I filled it with Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz, a matching dark brown ink. I chose Smokey Quartz which is a dry ink to complement the Broad Schmidt nib. I did not experience any hard start and the pen wrote instantly. The Schmidt nib wrote very smoothly and wet. It wrote very well, no skips, no inky blobs, no trouble at all. The Tessera is an enjoyable pen, and its long section helps in writing comfortably.

The Broad Schmidt nib in this Tessera Amber fountain pen writes and smooth and wet. 

I am happy with BENU Tessera Amber and will recommend it to anyone who wants to explore and know the brand. It's a lovely pen and I'm glad to have one in my collection. BENU is an excellent pen maker who uses only the best materials and takes great care in manufacturing their pens. Get one for your collection.

In the last five years, BENU has created pens for different series depicting bold, unique, and eye-catching designs. Aside from the Tessera Collection, BENU currently has seven other pen collections, and I'm including their descriptions below: 
  • Minima, portable pens with compact, streamlined faceted bodies. Their small size conveniently fits into pockets and bags. The Minima Collection has almost 20 color combinations. 
  • Briolette, pens with long facets that highlight the visual appeal of the material. The Briolette Collection has 22 color combinations.
  • Chameleon, pens with features never seen before. These pens have incredible chameleon-like material that allows colors to change depending on the angle from which you are looking at the pens. The Collection has nine color combinations.
  • Supreme, standard-sized pens with innovative design. There are six color combinations in the Supreme Collection.
  • Hexagon, features the pattern of nature’s most perfect six-sided polygon shapes. This collection has six color combinations.
  • Tattoo, pens that give tribute to the most unconventional form of modern art – the tattoo. BENU's Tattoo pens have bold designs and showcase beautiful imagery of stars, skulls, roses, and more. There are six combinations in this series.
  • Scepter, pens crafted for an exquisite and luxurious experience similar to scepters. This collection has six color combinations.

The Tessera Amber fountain pen in this review has been sent by BENU where it retails for US$120. To learn more about BENU, where to buy their pens, and for other details on purchasing BENU pens, visit their website at https://www.benupen.com/.

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