A Nib Journey With The Leonardo Momento Zero Mango

It would be a lie to say that I’m not buying many pens, but I AM trying to resist knee-jerk buying—like buying something just because I’m bored or tired or “deserve a reward.” I let the latest object of my affection simmer for at least a few days before making a final decision—really sorting out the reasons to say yay or nay. How mature, right? (Maybe I need a reward for being so mature!)

After a few weeks of simmering contemplation, the yays outweighed the nays and I ordered the Leonard Momento Zero Mango fountain pen from Fontoplumo—1.1 mm stub, ruthenium trim. I already have the Blue Hawaii version of the same model and love, love, love that pen so buying this gorgeous orange version was probably inevitable. I went for the ruthenium trim (vs. rubidium) for something a little different. And a stub nib instead of my usual medium. So it’s the same pen, but different.

The pen arrived and is as pretty as I’d hoped, with variegated “strips” of acrylic that give each pen a unique look. On my pen, these range from a bright reddish orange to a darker tortoiseshell orange, from tangerine to peach to the namesake mango. There’s pearlescence and chatoyancy in some of the acrylics, and a more muted look in others. The pen’s a stunner, in my opinion. Absolutely no complaints in the looks department.

The citrusy colors really pop under my desk light.

But all was not well in Nibville. I inked the new arrival with Diamine Blood Orange—a dead-ringer for the stunning red-orange acrylic—then scribbled on some Tomoe River paper. Sometimes the ink flowed and sometimes it didn’t. Ugh. I let it sit. I tried different ink. I tried different paper. All to no avail. Using it for a morning journaling session was a lesson in frustration as the flow stopped and started—stopping mostly on the downstrokes. To complete a word, I sometimes had to trace over the initial stroke two or three times. That’s a very slow way to fill a page.

The problem child

The hard starting problem seemed to stem from the ruthenium coating on the nib, or at least that’s my theory, and I kicked myself for making that choice rather then going with tried-and-true rhodium trim. But the ruthenium looked so cool! What to do? What to do?

I emailed Frank at Fontoplumo to ask for some advice—was there anything I could do to get a more consistent writing experience? He offered that the coating might wear down over time, and I did agree that that was a possibility, but worried that I wouldn’t use the pen enough for that to happen. I thought about just waiting until I could have the nib issue addressed at a pen show—surely an easy fix for a nibmeister—but with the current state of the pandemic, who knows when I’ll get to one of those.

The pen was too new and too pretty to tuck away so I ordered a fine gold-colored Leonardo-branded replacement nib from Goldspot Pens. (I know, I could’ve swapped in any #6 Jowo nib but wanted one that’s branded the same as the pen because that’s how I’m wired.) That nib arrived and is really nice—smooth with spot-on flow. I was now 80% happy, but still wishing for a better ruthenium stub.

A few days later, it dawned on me to reach out to Leonardo via Facebook. (Hey! A good use for Facebook!) Their reply was almost instantaneous, and they asked that I email their nibmeister, which I quickly did—again, politely laying out the issue and asking for advice. Their reply was short and simple—we’ll send you a new nib. The new 1.1 mm ruthenium stub (installed in a new section!) arrived from Italy in mere days and is the epitome of a great writer. Super smooth, lovely flow. All is well. No—all is PERFECT.

Ink: Birmingham Pen Co. Ultramarine

Despite my initial disappointment, I couldn’t be happier with how this played out, and realize that I should’ve thought to contact Leonardo right away. Occasionally this kind of of issue pops up but what separates the great companies from the rest is responsiveness and the desire to make every customer a happy one.

The Leonardo Momento Zero Mango is a fountain pen that makes me feel good every time I pick it up (daily!) not just because of the way it looks and writes, but because of how I was treated—like my satisfaction mattered.

This pen took me on a little nib journey, but in the end I arrived in a very good place—at the crossroads of relief and delight.

Edited to add: After posting this, Frank van Krieken, from Fontoplumo, emailed me to emphasize the fact that he will always work with his customers to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchases, should a problem such as mine pop up.

My Momento: The Leonardo Momento Zero Blue Hawaii

Twelve days into a 2019—a year in which I pledged to rein in pen purchases—I fell in love with a pen. Twelve days. That might be a new record for caving on a pledge. To be fair, I did ponder the purchase for a few more days, but I just couldn’t get this pen out of my head.


Can you see why?

I worked up the best rationalizations I could, which is one of my superpowers. This pen—the Leonardo Momento Zero//Blue Hawaii—is from a company that’s new to me.

A paragraph on the Armando Simoni Club site summarizes the lineage of the company this way: Leonardo Officina Italiana holds a special place in the heart of Armando Simoni Club pens, because the owners of both companies share a history and a passion for pens. In 1978, the father of ASC founder Emmanuel Caltagirone started his own pen company. His first customer in 1982 was Ciro Matrone, one of the founders of the Delta pen company.  Almost 40 years later, Ciro’s son Salvatore makes the Armando Simoni Club pens in Naples, Italy – and now, he has launched his own brand: Leonardo Officina Italiana. This brand represents everything we love: handmade Italian pens, beautiful materials, great nibs, and a true passion for pens. 

So not only is this company new to me, it’s also relatively new to the pen world. Ah, a blessed loophole in my pen moratorium! If it’s a pen from a manufacturer that I don’t currently own, then maybe I could suspend my own (pretty darn loose) rule!

I held a meeting of the “Can we buy a pen NOW?” committee—a committee of one, I’ll admit—and the vote was unanimous in favor of said purchase.

The pen shipped from the Netherlands on my birthday and arrived about a week later. Once I had the pen in hand, I knew I’d made the right decision. It’s beautiful.


The material is resin but instead of being a solid color, there’s a pearly range of blues and browns and creams and shimmer that very much lives up to the “Blue Hawaii” name.


What’s also interesting is that the cap and body appear to be faceted, and yet they’re not. The effect apparently comes from the way the different resins are mated together. It’s one of those pens that’s always gives you something new to look at and discover. Handmade in Italy, no two Blue Hawaii pens will look alike because of the uniqueness of the material.


The steel nib is very simply adorned with the Leonardo logo and the nib size—a medium, in my case. It’s understated in the best way possible, and writes like a dream. A perfectly medium medium, it’s wide enough to show off ink characteristics and fine enough for my small(ish) handwriting. It’s a perfect fit for me, both pen-wise and nib-wise.


The build quality is flawless and even the included converter is substantial and well-made. There’s a blind cap at the end of the body for easy access to the converter, or you can just unscrew the body like you’d do for a regular cartridge/converter pen.


The pens are engraved with Leonardo Officina Italiana, and the pen’s number—the pens are numbered, but not limited—and tastefully accented with rhodium trim. For all of its good looks and obvious quality, the price tag on the Blue Hawaii pen is quite reasonable as upper end pens go. Purchased from Fontoplumo in the Netherlands, I paid about $167 for this beauty, which feels like a bargain given the exceptional fit and finish.


When I first made my health and wellness a priority, I found that eating an occasional high-quality snack tasted SO MUCH better than eating a bunch of mediocre snacks all the time, and I think this same idea applies to pen buying. Indulging in a pen “treat” that’s thoughtfully considered and high-quality seems like striking the right balance between “no new pens” and buying “all the pens.” I’m still looking to take it easy with pen purchases this year, but I’m glad I made an exception for this Blue Hawaii beauty. (My photos really don’t do it justice.)

As I said above, this pen shipped on my birthday—my 60th birthday—so I’m considering it a “momento” for this new decade. Guaranteed for life against any manufacturing defects (I wish I was!), I’m certain that I’ll enjoy my Leonardo Momento Zero Blue Hawaii pen for decades to come.