The Best Pens and Stationery Gifts that won't leave you broke


We'll be completely transparent and admit that the pen hobby can be an expensive one.

Yes, it is possible to spend $2,000 each on Namiki Emperor Urushi-lacquered fountain pens as gifts for all your child's teachers. We're not going to stop you from doing that. However, we know that most of you are like us and live within modest means. It can be difficult to spend sensibly on fine-writing instruments while getting the best value.

Using our 20+ years of experience in the pen industry, we developed this list of budget-conscious writing gift ideas that give you plenty of pen for the money and are available in a wide array of crowd-pleasing colors and styles.

Best Pens for Gifts from $1 to $49.99

Kaweco Sport (Classic and Skyline)

When it comes to the most economical, high quality pens for gifts, your first stop should be the Kaweco Sport collection. Made in Germany, the Sport is Kaweco's iconic, best-selling design inspired by vintage pens from early in the company's history. It's the quintessential pocket pen with a minimalist design and lightweight, yet durable construction, making it an ideal pen for graduation gift.

Starting at $20, the Sport is a great value for a pen that lasts. What the pen lacks in no-frills packaging, it makes up for in reliability and design. The pen is pocket-sized so it's easy to take wherever you need to write. The rollerball and fountain pen modes have a deep-posting cap that extends the overall size of the pen to a comfortable length. The ballpoint and mechanical pencil modes have a sturdy, wide base to grip.

Regardless of its size, the Kaweco Sport is a great fit for almost everyone on your shopping list. As I mentioned, there are four modes to choose from. Then, there are the colors - Kaweco continues to add to the impressive array of finishes with the Sport Collector's editions. Consider the Kaweco Sport a special pen gift that could be given to all your kid's teachers.

Retro 51 Tornado Rollerball Pens

In recent years, the Retro 51 Tornado has become one of the most highly collectible writing instruments we've ever seen. Here's an analogy: The Retro Tornado Rollerball Pen is like the Chuck Taylor All-Star shoe for Converse. Retro introduces countless variations, collaborations, limited editions, and fashionable styles every year. The tapered barrel of the twist-action rollerball is the perfect canvas (and tool) for creative expression.

Starting at $24 for the classic lacquer rollerball pen, the Tornado rollerball can be an affordable gift for friends who love writing. With so many styles available, there's a Tornado for virtually everyone. Say your friend is studying for medical school. Get them a "Dr. Gray" pen with skeletal anatomy illustrated on the barrel or a "Dmitri" with the periodic table of elements. Or, perhaps they're into history. There are several Retro 51 collaborations with the Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Coffee, playing cards, music, alcoholic beverages, pets, pizza, and more - you are bound to find a Retro 51 that fits the gift recipient's interests.

New for 2022, Retro 51 introduces a collaboration with the United States Postal Service with the "Thank You" stamp pens. This holiday season, show your thanks to associates, friends, and family with a pen that says it all. Available in four colors, the Thank You Stamp design originates from Dana Tanamachi's original artwork for the 2020 USPS stamps.

True, the limited editions and more complicated designs cost more - approximately $50-$70 per pen. However, you could still get a Retro 51 personalized pen gift for under $40. Using Goldspot's in-house engraving services, you can engrave the person's name, a special date, a small message, or the logo of a business (or school) on the lacquered barrel of a Tornado rollerball pen. The engraving service costs $9.50 per item and can usually be discounted if you plan on engraving a high volume of pens.

Since they're built from a sturdy metal base, Retro 51 pens are durable and can use the easy-to-find Parker-style type refill. Out-of-the-box, the Torando writes smoothly with a bold point capless rollerball cartridge. Between the capless roller refills and the Parker-style options, the writer has a large variety of colors to choose from when refilling their pen.

TWSBI Eco fountain pen
When it comes to entering the world of fountain pens, the TWSBI Eco is a gateway pen that is an excellent starting point for newbies. "Eco" is short for "economical" and, at $32.99 for a piston-fill fountain pen, it's easy to see why. At that price, it's unusual that a fountain pen would include a converter, let alone a piston-filling mechanism. The piston-fill body allows a clear view of the ink sloshing around inside. It also holds a much higher capacity of ink than a standard cartridge.

Available in over a dozen bold colors, including special editions, the TWSBI Eco has a rainbow of fun styles to choose from. After writing hundreds, if not thousands of pages with the dependable stainless steel nib, the writer can service the pen using the included wrench and silicone grease. Although it might be tempting to disassemble the pen's piston mechanism for fun (or between routine ink fillings) we recommend taking the pen apart only when the piston mechanism is malfunctioning or when ink has stained the inside of the barrel.

Caran d'Ache 849 Ballpoint Pens
Fountain pens aren't for everyone. Although we're big advocates for having everyone try fountain pens, we know not everyone is going to fall in love with them the same way that we do. So, if you're looking for the best writing pens for gifts and want to play it safe with a tried and true ballpoint, you can set a watch to the Caran d'Ache 849. The Swiss-made design is a favorite among students, creative professionals, and designers.

Starting at $27 retail (with sale prices starting at $21.95), the slim profile of the 849 ballpoint pen is a comfortable fit with a modest gift budget. The only downside is the packaging. The less-expensive ballpoints do not come with any box. We do offer a Caran d'Ache cardboard tube for an additional cost. Aside from the presentation, the 849 ballpoint is a pen you can expect to write beautifully for a long, long time.

At the heart of the hexagonal-shaped, aluminum pen design is the proprietary "goliath" ballpoint cartridge made by Caran d'Ache in Switzerland. While other ballpoint pen tips can be inconsistent and blotchy, the Swiss-made goliath refill rolls a smooth, even line for over 600 A4 pages.

Much like all the pens we talked about in this section, Caran d'Ache recognizes the value of introducing new, colorful designs in this youth-oriented pen design. Most recently, they introduced the Color Treasure edition that makes the pen look like a colored pencil. There are plenty of seasonal designs and fashion-forward colorways to choose from. Plus, we can easily engrave the 849 design to make it a personalized pen gift.

You might have noticed that the best pens gifts options in the under $50 range all started around the $25-$35 mark. If your budget is $50, we would suggest complementing your pen purchase with a bottle of ink, extra refills (cartridges), or a paper notebook.

For a taste of quality paper, we suggest gifting a Rhodia pad or a Clairefontaine pocket notebook. Both options are available for under $6 and contain smooth, fountain pen-friendly paper that resists ink feathering and bleedthrough.

With hundreds of fountain pen inks to choose from, this might be the most difficult decision you have to make in purchasing your writing gift. Should you go with blue, black, or blue-black? Which tone of blue? Royal? Cerulean? Turquoise? A blue that sheens or shades? What about shimmer? Such a dizzying array of colors can be intimidating to narrow down. Here are a few tips that can help you find the perfect bottle of ink:

  • Use the color swatches in the product images to find an approximate match for the pen color you selected.
  • Use the sort features on to narrow your search by ink color, properties (like fast-dry, water-resistance, shimmer, etc), and price.
  • You don't need to use the same brand of ink as the pen you are purchasing. Kaweco pens will write with other inks besides Kaweco's own.
  • When in doubt, go for blue ink. It's like ordering pizza for a kid's birthday party.

Best Pens for Gifts from $50 to $99.99

Lamy Studio

Spending above the $50 price point will net higher luxury pen gifts. For an upgrade to the everyday starter Lamy Safari and AL-Star pen design, check out the award-winning Lamy Studio. Recipient of the "Good Design Award" and the "iF Industrie Forum Design" award, the Studio's sleek, Bauhaus design combines undiluted function with graceful elegance.

Starting at $79 retail for the ballpoint, the Studio is a shining example of what you should expect in spending more on a high quality pen gift. The brass inner barrel construction provides additional weight that is finished with metal or lustrous lacquer. The pen's profile has a gentle taper that fits comfortably in the hand. The lacquered finishes are aesthetically gorgeous while offering a sublime tactile experience.

Speaking of the variety of Studio designs, there are plenty of colors available in both matte and glossy polished finishes. Most have a polished chrome grip section. But, if you prefer a section with better traction, the stainless steel, and the all-black Lx design have a matte finish grip. The Studio is available as a cartridge/converter-filling fountain pen with stainless steel nib, a capped rollerball pen, and a twist-action ballpoint pen.

Nahvalur Original +
If you're looking for a fountain pen with high ink capacity and easy, one-handed filling, take the plunge on a Nahvalur Original Plus fountain pen. At $55, you'll be hard-pressed to find a pen with this type of filling mechanism at such a great value. Available in four, swirling acrylic colors, the body of the Original Plus is mostly clear to show the ink inside of the pen.

Usually, pen aficionados would expect to see a vacuum-filling system on a more expensive pen model. The Pilot Custom 823 and the Visconti Homo Sapiens have the same type of filling mechanism and are over 5 times more expensive than the Original Plus. The Nahvalur writes with an in-house stainless steel nib that is interchangeable with the #6 size Jowo. Yet, you may want to keep that nib on the pen because it's quite smooth and pleasant to use.

Conklin Duragraph
Conklin is an old name in the pen industry. Originally started in 1898 by Roy Conklin in Toledo, Ohio, the company was one of the early pioneers of fountain pens. The spirit of making pens for the everyday writer continues with the Duragraph series. Starting at $60 retail for the ballpoint and $70 for the fountain pen, the Duragraph combines gorgeous acrylic finishes with a reliable writing system that you can count on for all your handwritten work.

Instead of the injection-molded plastic common to pens in the lower price ranges, the Duragraph uses acrylic resin, polished metals, and even abalone shells to add more luxury appeal to the pen's design. With over a dozen different styles and finishes, there's bound to be a design that will serve as an excellent pen gift.

Each Conklin Duragraph fountain pen includes both options to fill the pen using international ink cartridges or a converter to fill with bottled ink (bottled ink not included, though everything else is). The matching ballpoint pen mode uses the ubiquitous Parker-style type cartridge which can be found in many colors. Conklin stands behind each pen with a lifetime limited manufacturer's warranty.

Platinum Curidas

Combining the smooth, liquid writing experience of a fountain pen with the convenience of a click-action retractable pen, the Platinum Curidas stokes the curiosity of even the most seasoned pen enthusiasts. There aren't many options for retractable fountain pens. And, most of them tend to be quite expensive - in the $150 range and up. However, you can buy the Platinum Curidas for $90 retail (sale price may apply), which makes it one of the best value writing pens for gifts.

The Curidas has the charm of a demonstrator fountain pen. The colorful PMMA resin shows the inner workings of the pen's retraction mechanism. If the writer prefers, the pen's pocket clip can be removed to provide an unobstructed grip area. The Curidas can be filled using either Platinum's proprietary converter or ink cartridges. The filling procedure, while being covered in the booklet included with the pen, can be a little challenging, especially for new pen enthusiasts.

Choose from 5 colors and three nib sizes in stainless steel (EF, F, or M) and make the Curidas a convenient, quick-draw companion for all your on-the-go writing needs.

Best Pens (and Ink) for Gifts from $100 to $149.99

Leonardo Momento Zero

When it comes to handmade Italian luxury writing instruments, it's hard to beat a pen gift from Leonardo Officina Italiana. Based in Naples and leaning on over 40 years of experience making pens, this family-run company excels at crafting exquisite fountain pens from beautiful acrylic materials.

Thanks to the favorable conversion rates with the Euro, the fan-favorite Leonardo Momento Zero fountain pen is now within the price range to be mentioned in this gift guide. Now starting at a sale price of $149.95, the Italian acrylic fountain pen uses a #6 size stainless steel nib (made by Jowo) and fills by cartridge (not included) or converter (included).

When you browse for the Momento Zero pen of choice, be sure to keep a napkin nearby. These Italian acrylics are mouth-watering. Many styles are offered in multiple trim options, so be sure to browse around to find the perfect style that suits the gift recipient.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar
When it comes to surprising and delighting a fountain pen enthusiast during the holidays, the Diamine Inkvent calendar provides an exciting countdown, which has become a worldwide community event.

Starting December 1st, Diamine Inkvent owners will open each door and share their wonder, surprise, and opinions online as they swatch and write with each fountain pen ink. Last year, many pen enthusiasts shared their pictures and videos of each day's ink on social media.

At $115, this is probably the most you'll spend on fountain pen ink all year. Yet, it's the gift that keeps on giving. With so many beautiful colors to explore and write with all year long, there are countless hours of enjoyment behind every calendar door. A limited number of sets were made, so this will be the only opportunity to purchase these inks in smaller bottle sizes to sample them all.

Laban 325 Collection

To keep from going completely broke in giving the best pen gifts this year, it pays to explore pen brands that aren't household names, yet provide the same level of quality in their design. Made in Taiwan since 1982, Laban continues to produce luxury pens that look high-end without the expensive price tag.

The Laban 325 is a perfect example of an elegant, affordable design. Starting at $119.95 for the rollerball and $127.95 for the fountain pen, the "325" collection combines ivory-colored acrylic with a vibrant acrylic barrel trimmed in gold-plated appointments. The pens have a luxurious look backed by a reliable writing system.

For the fountain pen, Laban fitted a Jowo #6 size stainless steel nib (same origin as the Leonardo nib) in a variety of tip sizes to best suit the writer. The matching rollerball writes fluidly with an international G2-style rollerball cartridge. These pens are presented in a Laban gift box with a slide-out drawer.

We wish we could include many more pens on this list. With over 10,000 items on the Goldspot website, it's hard to only mention so few pens. However, we wanted to bring you the best of the best pen gifts that won't break the bank. For more great deals to get your money's worth, check out our clearance section. At last count, we have over 300 items on sale there. It is constantly being updated with closeout specials, pens offered at deeper discounts, and overstock deals.

If you'd like to leave the final pen purchasing decision up to the gift recipient, we have one last suggestion...

Goldspot Fine Writing Gift Cards

Yes, pen enthusiasts can be a persnickety bunch. It's part of the process in becoming a full-blown pen addict. Thankfully, you can find the perfect one-size-fits-all gift for the writer in your life, including a pen for under 10 dollars. Goldspot gift cards are available instantly through e-mail delivery. If you are short on time, the instant digital gift card is the perfect present in a pinch. Goldspot gift cards are available in a variety of denominations, starting at $10, and do not expire.

Shop Instant E-mail delivery Gift Cards > >

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