Caran d’Ache Offers The Spirit Of Switzerland In An Ornately Engraved Pen
by Nancy Olson
Caran d’Ache has always held a special place in my heart – one that was only strengthened when I visited the Geneva headquarters for the first time about two decades ago.
As a major writing instrument fan, I’d fallen in love with the brand’s array of interesting and well-crafted pens, and I liked that they were neither German nor Italian – the sources of most high-end pen brands at the time.
They seemed exotic.
I also appreciated Caran d’Ache’s very long and very Swiss provenance, which includes a past in creating artists’ drawing tools like colorful lead pencils. The brand’s name, after all, comes from karandash, the Russian word for “pencil.”
When my daughter got married a few years ago, we bought her a silver Caran d’Ache Ecridor pen to accompany her guest book. This crystal-laden faceted pen, while so beautiful, also seemed like the perfect metaphor for the event: it came from long and hardy roots, making it an enduring item; it was well designed and multi-dimensional; and, importantly, it sparkled.
It does need polishing, though – the metaphor continues.
This year marks Caran d’Ache’s 100th anniversary. And to celebrate, the company has delved into its history and collaborated with a Swiss jewelry craftsman to create the limited edition Spirit of Switzerland.
I should preface this by saying that the company has previously expressed its reverence for its homeland by creating an entire collection called Léman – named for Lake Geneva, or its French name Lac Léman. This colorful series reminded me not only of the perceived hues of the lake at different times of the day, but also Caran d’Ache’s famous artists’ supplies.
The Spirit of Switzerland celebrates Swiss traditions like wine production and watchmaking in gorgeous relief on the cap and barrel. The solid silver sculptured overlay is on a matte black-lacquer pen body, giving it even more “pop” than if the pen were created in all silver.
The imagery includes mountain peaks, Edelweiss (the national symbol), an alpine horn, chalets, and even cheese. Does this sound like a lot to put on one pen? Well, this is a hefty pen. But the execution of the sculpture is so tasteful that what could be overkill in someone else’s hands is a refined tribute at the hand of Caran d’Ache.
And gazing at the pen only adds to its interest, since more details are discovered the longer one looks. A frieze engraved with Swiss crosses delineates both ends of the pen, and a rutile rock crystal cabochon adorns the cap crown.
The Spirit of Switzerland is available as either a fountain pen with an 18-karat gold nib or rollerball pen, each presented in an elegant gray box. The edition includes just 100 numbered pieces – also, I presume, in honor of its anniversary.
For more information, please visit www.carandache.com.
Editions: fountain pen, rollerball
Cap and barrel: black lacquered with relief engraved solid silver overlay
Nib: 18-karat gold, available in several widths
Limitation: 100 pieces
Price: fountain pen 4,900 Swiss francs; rollerball 4,300 Swiss francs