Pen Review: Aurora Optima Auroloide

Material: Auroloide (Cellulose Acetate)
Nib: 14k Gold
Appointments: Gold-colored
Filling System: Piston-filler
Length (Capped): 127mm
Length (Uncapped): 123.4mm
Length (Posted): 153.3
Section Diameter: 11.5mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 14.3mm
Cap Max Diameter: 15.5mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 14g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 22g

My first experience with an Aurora pen was with a pen that I borrowed for review purposes back in Season 2: the Aurora Style. It was an interesting pen, but I wasn’t terribly enamored of it when all was said and done. One of the lower-cost offerings from the Italian maker, the Style didn’t create a great first impression, and it held me back from purchasing another Aurora pen for a while.

Eventually, I purchased one of Aurora’s flagship pens, the Optima. The Optima comes in a variety of finishes, but I was immediately drawn to the stunning material used to make the Auroloide version of the Optima. Auroloid is, as some people have called it, “modern” celluloid. Classic celluloid is actually cellulose nitrate. It’s a beautiful material that is easy recognized by its distinctive aroma of camphor, and a certain “warmth” in the hand. It is also unstable, rather flammable, and prone to discoloration from the off-gassing of latex sacs. (Take a look at an old Sheaffer in Jade celluloid and you’ll see what I mean.)


Aurora’s Auroloide is cellulose acetate. It feels very much like acrylic, but with a bit more depth of color and a slightly warmer feel in the hand. It doesn’t have that same camphor smell. It also tends to be much more stable than its cellulose nitrate cousin. (There are early reports of Auroloide shrinking over time, but that issue appears to have been caused by the dyes used to color the material and has since been resolved.)


The blue auroloide of this pen is stunningly beautiful and almost looks like topaz-colored quartz in appearance. It’s rich and deep, with a great deal of sparkle. The line comes in a whole rainbow of colors, between the production colors of maroon, green, blue and the other, limited edition colors (I’ve seen yellow, brown, bright red, orange, grey, and a pale, Mediterranean blue color among others.)  I was severely tempted by the green version (because, um, green), but I eventually went with the blue, because it was in stock and I am not known for my patience.

When my Optima arrived, I opened the box and was immediately disappointed. The pen was beautiful, but it was SO SHORT!  If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t really care for small pens, and this one was much shorter than I had expected. (That’s a good reminder to always check to length stats before buying a pen you’ve never handled before.)  Notice, however, that I said it was short, not small. The Optima’s width is quite nice, but the length was too short, which left the pen feeling just a bit on the stubby side.

The construction of the pen is solid, and the result just drips Italian design. Nobody will mistake this pen as understated, but neither is it as flash or over-the-top as many other Italian-designed pens. It straddles the line between attention-grabbing and refined beautifully. The pen is capped off by a polished, flat, black finial. The clip is a sturdy arch, with a graceful swoop, and terminating in a nicely integrated ball of folded metal. The cap flared toward the cap lip, and is highlighted with a thick, gold-colored cap band which features a Greek key design in enameled black, and matte engraved design around the center of the band which sets of the words “Aurora” and “Italy” which are in a mirror shine.

Below the cap, the barrel tapers down to a flat-ended, black piston filler knob. The side of the barrel is engraved.


Under the cap, you see a clear acrylic ink window, a very nice feature that far too many piston fillers seem to neglect. The section is made of black acrylic, and is, without hyperbole, one of the most comfortable sections I have ever had the great pleasure to hold in my hand. Even if I hated the rest of this pen (and I don’t) I would still recommend it based solely on the section. Aurora has opted for a much longer-than-normal section, which ensures that even people like me, who hold their pens a bit higher than others, don’t have to hold the threads. I love holding this pen in my hand.


When it comes to the nib, this Aurora is something pretty special. Aurora is one of the few pen manufacturers in Europe or America that manufactures its own nibs rather than outsourcing the work to one of the other many major nib makers. (Rumor has it that Pelikan has moved nib making back in-house in the last couple of years after outsourcing it to Bock.)  The result is a nib which has a slightly different shape than you’re used to, but which is tuned nearly to perfection. It’s quite a rigid nib, with very little give. The medium line is about what you’d expect from a European pen: not too wide, not too narrow. The tines on this pen were perfectly in alignment, and the pen was adjusted to a perfect level of ink flow: enough to feel wet but not so wet as to make the pen unusable on regular paper.

That being said, Aurora’s nibs are known for providing a LOT of feedback, and this nib was no exception. There was no scratchiness to the nib, nor was there any skipping, hard starting, or ink starvation. Just a lot of feedback…too much feedback for my tastes. It appears that Aurora has taken the position that it’s easier to smooth a nib than to properly un-smooth it, so they have opted to leave their nibs relatively unpolished. I have, in the past, blasted other companies for doing the same on their nibs, and I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of it on Aurora’s pens either. But as the rest of the writing experience is so exquisitely tuned, I’m willing to give it a pass as a deliberate choice rather than a lack of quality control. Just note that if you want a buttery-smooth writing experience with your Aurora, you’ll have to break out the Micromesh™ like I did.


Despite my initial misgivings about the size of this pen, and the overt feedback on the nib, I have grown to absolutely adore this pen. It has migrated into my top 10, and possibly even my top 5. I have to write with the pen posted to get the length to the point that it feels balanced, but since it posts so deeply and securely, once it is posted, it a dream in the hand. And a bit of polishing has made the nib sing like Eva Cassidy. The pen is perfectly constructed, writes incredibly well, and looks like a dream. I lurve this pen.

  • Smithman

    Great ending 😀 The review,too.

  • Nic S.

    Looks like a great pen, thanks!

    Since you plan to polish the nib, may I suggest looking to
    the inner edges first? In your detailed pictures the nib’s tip looks well
    polished outside. Of course, if you over-polish the inner edges you get hard
    starts (baby’s b.), but they are important in my experience. Just a suggestion …

    • The inner edges were not the problem on this particular nib. It was the polish across the whole nib. But I usually work on the inner margins on the tines as part of my smoothing process. It wasn’t really necessary this time around.

  • Mualla Emine

    Thank you for a ‘lovely’review as always :).. I am looking for a smoth and lovely pen. I was quite sure I would go for a Pelikan M1000 or an Omas kind of beauty. I love your reviews on higher end pens, and I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions. I have used fountain pens throughout my school years and unfortenutely left it for a long time since then. But lately as I started to write a lot (journaling, work and some more :)), I started using fountain pens again. Your, Stephen’s from sbrebrown and Brian’s from goulet, videos got me back into the habit and love of it! I am not exactly a ‘serious collector’ per se, as I like to use all of my pens since I write a lot and I’m not yet very good on maintenance or on playing around with nibs. So I need a good smooth writer out of the box. And it wouldn’t hurt if the pen was a beauty as well 🙂 I do like Visconti as probably most people do. I have the millenium arc. But I would like to go for something really special this time. Any thoughts? (Sorry my message is sooo long!) Keep up the great work!

    • Well, I think a Pelikan or an Omas that catches your fancy would be great. And if you want to stick with Visconti, take a look at the Divina Elegance. You should also take a look at pens from Nakaya, Danitrio, or Classic Pens (especially the LB5). It all depends on what floats your boat!

      • Mualla Emine

        Thanks so much for such a qick reply. I will check out your suggestions and probably come back to you for the final decision and maintenance advice next!! 🙂

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  • Deborah Hartman

    I just got one of these – my first fancy pen. It was new – from someone’s collection. When I tried to write with it, it was scratchy and didn’t have continual ink flow. I am going to let it “rest” for awhile since I have to attend to other things. Any suggestions on what to do? It was very difficult to write with it. 🙁

    • Hi Deborah. Sorry about the bum experience!

      If you don’t feel comfortable working on your own nibs, you have a couple of options: you can send it off to a nibmeister to have them work on it. (A few nibmesiters of note include Dan Smith of, Pendleton Brown, and Mike Masuyama of

      If you think the pen may still be under some kind of warranty, you might also want to reach out to Kenro Industries, who is the U.S. Distributor for Aurora. They may be able to fix it here in the states, or they may be able to send it back to Italy for you to have it repaired there.)

  • Brian Kott

    I have one of these pens. I purchased it from Classic Fountain Pens. When I first received the pen it was a little rough and had flow problems. I returned it to Classic for a rework on the nib and the ink flow. That pen is now the standard against which I measure all of my other pens. The flow is perfect and the nib is smooth as silk. You might want to consider connecting CPF and have them work on it.
    Matt I really enjoy the work that you do keep it up. I especially enjoyed your blogging from the LA Pen show.

  • Deborah Hartman

    the pen is writing a little better but still scratchy and noisy. how much does it cost generally to have work done on a nib? its my first nice pen….thanks

    • I think most nibmeisters charge between $25-$40 for adjustments.

      • Deborah Hartman

        i probably will need to send it in somewhere. disappointing, but in the end it should be worth it – its a beautiful pen

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  • Kevin Guo

    Nothing wrong with Bock and Jowo, but there’s a certain romanticism associated with a pen entirely made by one company. In a very extreme and narrow-minded sense, pen companies that outsource their nibs are really “fountain pen parts manufacturers…” But that won’t stop me from loving GvFC or Delta pens!

  • Hi Matt, I’ve got my eye this pen but I get the sense that it might not be a great value. I’m also thinking about a Sailor Pro Gear, quite a different pen, especially on the looks. What is your take on the value of these two pens? Do you perceive one to be a better value than the other? Thanks!

    • They are very different pens. As I’m sure you know, looks matter a LOT to when it comes to the value of the pen, and I much prefer the Optima’s looks. I also much prefer the way it feels in the hand. The larger ink capacity and piston filler make it feel a lot more, for lack of a better word, luxurious.

      The Sailor will be an absolute rock solid writer. Both nibs will be a bit toothier than most of the nibs on the market, but both will likely be quite nice. I have a slight preference to the Aurora writing style, and I find the aurora nibs a bit easier to smooth to the level of smoothness I like.

      The Pro Gear is more affordable, certainly, but both are wonderful pens. I think it’ll depend on what you want out of your user experience.

      • Thanks for the quick response. I really love the look of the Aurora, down to every last detail. The only downside is that the price is above my current threshold of pain for fountain pens, hence my look at the Sailor. I appreciate your insight as well as your content here and YouTube.