Where to find the world's best pens
Some moments in life should be sealed with a momentous pen - marriage, the birth of a child, the ratification of a global treaty. An implement that attests to the significance of the occasion; one of beauty, balance, faultless performance and fine materials.
For such an occasion you might naturally gravitate towards a Caran D'Ache from Switzerland; an Aurora, Omas or Visconti from Italy; a Montblanc from Germany; or a Grayson Tighe from Canada. All come with the assurance of handsome looks, a quality writing experience and a significant price tag.
Stepping it up another notch is a bespoke pen, for which you can look closer to home. Curtis Australia's custom-built implements are snapped up by a global clientele that doesn't mind parting with five- or even six-figure sums for a pen built to their own exact specification.
Named in 2013 by The Robb Report as 'The Best of the Best' in the luxury pen business, Curtis Australia attracts royals, sheikhs and rock stars, for whom price is no object and nothing less than the best will do.
Managing director Glenn Curtis says between 60 and 70 per cent of his pen business comes from orders for one-off, individually designed and hand-crafted pens. These might display a customer's personal motif or be encrusted with a favourite gemstone, and are constructed to fit exactly their hand and penmanship style.
"If you're looking for a $20,000 to $30,000 pen, there's not many places you can find that pen and that's where we come in," he says.
"Sitting on a desk is not the only way to enjoy a great pen. You should be able, when you want to use it for something special, to pick it up and say 'that feels like a piece of quality, that feels nice in my hand'."
Curtis Australia designs, manufactures and assembles its pens in the country Victorian town of Bairnsdale, sourcing high-quality Australian gold and steel, plus locally-sourced diamonds, sapphires, rubies, garnet and amethyst where possible to create pens that can be as decorative or performance-focused as the customer desires.
Glenn Curtis hails from a family of jewellery and watchmakers and oversees a small team that can design and construct bespoke pens to incredibly tight tolerances.
"A bespoke pen that's a new body shape can run into many thousands of dollars because you've got the tooling, the processes, the internal componentry that has to fit perfectly, to one-tenth of a millimetre. It just has to fit," he says.
Skill and time are essential components in a bespoke pen, and Curtis makes no apologies that his prices reflect the significant work required. "There are no shortcuts. People think you can 3D-print a pen; we know about those technologies, but nothing beats hand-work."
There are many variables and even using different types of gold can dramatically alter a pen's weight and feel. "Using types of gold with different specific gravity means you can make the same pen 50 per cent lighter," he says.
"I can give you a pen that's 100 grams or one that's 62 grams, depending what metals I use, let alone the jewels. Then it depends where I put the metal within the pen. These are my secrets and it's why we're good at what we do."