Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen

The Sakura Gelly Roll isn’t just a classic, great gel pen, it’s the original gel pen.

One of the reasons the Gelly Roll is so notable is because its maker, Sakura, invented the gel pen. The rollerball pen was invented in the 1970s using water-based ink. Sakura was the first company to transition from a watery ink to a gel-based one which had an added thickener. Ultimately it was the addition of a xanthan gum, a food additive, that made all the difference and made the gel pen possible.

The gel pens first went on sale in 1984 in Japan and the Gelly Roll was first sold in the United States in 1989. It’s billed as the “Ice Cream Smooth” pen, which is the company’s tagline for the series.

Types of Gelly Roll Gel Pens

The Gelly Roll is usually sold in multi-pen sets in a number of varieties. These include:

  • Gelly Roll Classic – Standard colors like blue and red, but also a wide variety of shades, like baby blue
    • Classic White – This is a sub-variety that’s notable because it’s just so useful. Sold in three tip sizes
  • Metallic – These are metallic colors that include gold and silver, plus colors like purple, blue, and green
  • Gold Shadow – Gold metallic with different colors on the border, outlining the gold
  • Silver Shadow – Silver metallic with different colors on the border, outlining the silver
  • Stardust – These are the glitter colors, they have super fine metallic dust in the ink that sparkles. This line includes Stardust Clear, which is a colorless sparkle pen
  • Moonlight – Gelly Roll in jewel tones and earth tones
  • Glaze – A thick ink that leaves raised lettering, almost like stained glass
  • Aqualip – The Japanese version of the Glaze
  • Souffle – Uses thick ink like the Glaze, but in pastel colors

Standard Sakura Gelly Roll pens use archival ink but the exception to this is the fluorescent colors, which are not archival, nor are they fade-resistant. The fluorescents will glow under a blacklight (UV light).

All the gel inks are non-toxic as per ACMI standards.

It’s worth noting that Sakura also sells a pen called the BallSign, which is very similar in appearance to the Gelly Roll.

Sakura Gel Ink

The gel ink found in the Gelly Roll pens is archival quality, waterproof, and resists fading over time. It’s quick drying and works on a varieties of papers. The lightest colors and metallics are strong enough to come through on black paper.

Gelly Roll Sizes

The sizes of Gelly Roll pens is quite confusing. The size usually isn’t specified but it’s commonly referred to as a 0.6 mm. Some colors, like the popular white is sold in a 3-size kit:

  • 05 Fine: 0.5 mm ball which makes a 0.3 mm line
  • 08 Medium: 0.8 mm ball which makes a 0.4 mm line
  • 10 Bold: 1.0 mm ball which makes a 0.5 mm line

In summary though, Gelly Rolls Classic pens (the largest line) are sold in 0.5 mm, 0.6 mm, 0.8 mm, and 1.0 mm tips.

Best Gelly Roll Sets

While you can buy Gell Roll pens on their own, it’s generally best to get them as a set. This will save you money and let you appreciate them as a collection of colors, not a stand-alone gel pen.

  • Classic 10-pack – 10 pens in standard colors (Buy)
  • Artists Gift Set: 64 pens (mix of types) with storage case (Buy)

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen Information

Street Price Check Price
Manufacturer Sakura
Pen Type Rollerball / Gel
Barrel Color Clear
Barrel Material Plastic
Body Diameter (mm)13.4
Grip Color Clear
Grip Material Plastic
Grip Diameter (mm)8.7
Country of Origin Japan
MSRP $1.75
Still Sold Yes
Similar To
Capped? Retractable?Capped - Snap On
Length Capped / Retracted (cm)15.3
Length Posted (cm)16.4
Length Uncapped (cm)15.0
Weight (g)9.0
Ink Color ShippedBlack, Purple, Royal Blue, Red, Dark Blue, Pink, Green, Silver, Gold, White, Orange, Turquoise