Are Kaweco Inks Related to Caran d’Ache Inks?

This started when I was using and reviewing a bottle of Kaweco Palm Green.  It looked very close to a sample of Caran d’Ache Vibrant Green.  Then I looked at more samples I had purchased from both companies.  I had green, red/pink, blue and blue black inks from both.  There were obvious similarities between the Kaweco and Caran d’Ache versions of these colors.

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It could be a coincidence. But I keep thinking that these inks look like they come from the same sensibility.

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But, despite the similarities, none are identical.  You can see that if you look closely at the swabs.

With the greens, Caran d’Ache Vibrant Green has more blue and is slightly darker.

The two standard blue inks are both azure blues of medium saturation. But Kaweco Royal Blue shows more purple than the Caran d’Ache.

The two blue blacks are both gray blue blacks. But Kaweco Midnight Blue does look slightly bluer than its Caran d’Ache counterpart.

I couldn’t see much difference between the swabs of Kaweco Ruby Red and Caran d’Ache Divine Pink.  So I found a small writing sample with Caran d’Ache Divine Pink in my ink notebook.  I filled the same pen with Kaweco Ruby Red, and wrote the same sentence right below. The result, with Caran d’Ache above and Kaweco below, looks nearly identical.

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But I dug out the paper towel chromatography I had done on Divine Pink and Ruby Red. Caran d’Ache is on the left and Kaweco on the right. The dye mixture is close but it is not the same.

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Here is the paper towel chromatography I did on the green inks, with Caran d’Ache Vibrant Green on the left and Kaweco Palm Green on the right. Again the two mixtures look close, but not the same. The Caran d’Ache has more of the blue dye, and the Kaweco’s light green dye seems brighter.

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Here are the blue blacks, with Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue on the left and Kaweco Midnight Blue on the right. They use what look to be identical dyes. But Caran d’Ache has more of the gray and Kaweco more of the blue.

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Then there are the standard blue inks. To me, those looked close on the page. However, the chromatography reveals the dye mixtures to be completely different.  Caran d’Ache Idyllic Blue is on the left and Kaweco Royal Blue is on the right.

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Caran d’Ache  Idyllic Blue is aptly named, being a pure blue mix.  And Kaweco Royal Blue also is aptly named since it leans purple, being composed of several blues added to pink.

However, Kaweco Royal Blue does remind me of the composition of the blue blacks. Here are, from left to right,  Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue, Kaweco Midnight Blue and Kaweco Royal Blue.

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The Kaweco ink line comprises eight colors: red, green, blue, blue-black, brown, turquoise, black and purple. Every one of those colors also appears in the Caran d’Ache Chromatics lineup, though Caran d’Ache uses the name “pink” instead of “red.” However, Caran d’Ache has four more inks, for twelve in total.

It happens that Kaweco began selling these inks in 2013, the same year Caran d’Ache introduced the Chromatics ink line in place of its former Colors of the Earth inks.

So, with these factors, I can’t help wondering if the Kaweco inks might have been developed by, or in concert with, Caran d’Ache.

Of course this could all be coincidence.   I could only test four pairs, because those are the only complete pairs I have.  But if there’s a connection between Kaweco and Caran d’Ache inks, I wouldn’t complain. I’ve liked Caran d’Ache inks going back to the Colors of the Earth series.

There are differences between the brands beyond the individual ink colors. Caran d’Ache is more expensive. Its bottle is gorgeous, high-end and heavy — the cap even is weighted. And the bottle is thoughtfully designed to tilt if taken out of the box, to make filling a pen easy whether the bottle is full or close to empty.

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Caran d’Ache 50 ml bottles cost $32 at one internet retailer, or about 64 cents per ml. Kaweco’s 30 ml bottles cost $14 there, or about 46 cents per ml.

I really like the Caran d’Ache bottle. I think it’s as attractive as a Pilot Iroshizuku bottle, and as useful as a Waterman bottle.  I also like the inks I’ve used from both of the brands, whoever designed and made them.  And I plan to try more Caran d’Ache and Kaweco inks in the future. I expect very nice inks, based on what I’ve seen so far.

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10 thoughts on “Are Kaweco Inks Related to Caran d’Ache Inks?

  1. Kaweco have a history of making pens for others: they make the Cult Pens FPs, and a few years ago Fimo polymer clay offered a fountain pen for decorating with polymer clay, and it was made by Kaweco too. So I could totally see it!

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  2. I’m a scientist, and I’d say that you could easily get a small amount of variation between chromatography runs of the same ink. We always do at least three samples for each test, often more. Some of these chromatographs look indistinguishable to me. I’d suggest that you do them several times just to see how much variation you get. Also, the Kaweco bottle looks like the ones Pelikan uses. Are they from the same manufacturer? Wouldn’t surprise me.

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    1. Hi Don. Yes, excellent point. I have done some of these three times, and all of them twice, because as you suggest I have noticed slight variation before, and I wanted to be sure. The dyes and the ratio or relative amounts of the dyes have remained the same with these. The two colors that are closest to me are the blue black and the pink/red, but the chromas continue to show a difference. I wish I had more sophisticated tools.

      The Kaweco bottles do look like Pelikan bottles. I think Delta may use the same ink bottles as well.

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    1. Go for it! However, even paper towel chomatography shows that they aren’t identical. It’s more the resemblance I’m talking about. And I see that resemblance in some of these right down to the dyes used. It just seems like someone with the same eye for color could have had a hand in them. Or else it could be a total coincidence.

      Again, I’m clueless. I just posted it because I found it interesting. 🙂

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  3. And that could be true! For sure. I’m clueless. 🙂

    I mentioned somewhere that I have no idea how the industry works. It’s possible that one manufacturer produces inks for a number of brands based on the brand’s recipes. It’s also possible that an outside company or individual designer creates ink mixtures for the brands, and that might or might not be the same as the manufacturer. I know that in the flavors and fragrances business, some brands do most of the work in-house, while others hire a flavors and fragrances company.

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    1. Like they have ‘dupes’ for color cosmetics, right? Sometimes those are two products made by companies in the same ‘stable’ (is that the right word? I mean like L’Oréal and Lancôme, which had practically the same lip gloss a few years ago). But sometimes one manufacturer makes stuff for others while at the same time selling under their own name, like Diamine who also make ink for Cult Pens (and I think maybe some others that are not explicit about it, like maybe these Plooms pens).

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  4. That is a really interesting thought. I haven’t bought either a C d’A Chromatics ink or a Kaweco ink. One might have naturally assumed a German manufacturer would be likely to be involved with Kaweco ink.

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  5. What a strange discovery! I’ve always been attracted to the caran d’ache inks (because of the bottle) and I fell in love with Infra-red when I sampled it, but I couldn’t convince myself to pull the trigger and buy a bottle. I wonder if kaweco has a red that would match it… Not the pink. That would save a few bucks.

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    1. I think Ruby Red is Kaweco’s only red, and as you can see it’s very close to Caran d’Ache Divine Pink. Now you have me wanting to try Infra Red. 🙂

      I know what you mean, though: the Caran d’Ache inks are pricey. If it helps, I sprung for Divine Pink, and I didn’t regret it once the bottle arrived. It’s a beautiful ink, and the bottle is fantastic.

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