Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of several black metallic alloys of sulfur with copper, silver, or lead, used to fill an incised design on the surface of another metal.
  • noun A surface or object decorated with one of these alloys.
  • noun The art or process of ornamenting metal surfaces with one of these alloys.
  • transitive verb To decorate or inlay with niello.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To decorate by means of niello-work; treat with niello or by the niello process.
  • noun A design in black on a surface of silver, as that of a plaque, chalice, or any ornamental or useful object, formed by engraving the design and then filling up the incised furrows with an alloy composed of silver, copper, lead, crude sulphur, and borax, thus producing the effect of a black drawing on the bright surface. The process is of Italian origin, and is still extensively practised in Russia, where the finest niello is now produced. In many examples, conversely, the ground is cut out and inlaid with the black alloy, on which the design appears white or bright, as in the cut.
  • noun An impression taken from the engraved surface before the incised lines have been filled up.
  • noun The dark compound used for such inlays in silver, made up of different alloys of sulphur, silver, copper, etc.
  • noun Inlaid work of the kind defined above.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A metallic alloy of a deep black color.
  • noun The art, process, or method of decorating metal with incised designs filled with the black alloy.
  • noun A piece of metal, or any other object, so decorated.
  • noun An impression on paper taken from an ancient incised decoration or metal plate.
  • noun An impression on paper taken from the engraved or incised surface before the niello alloy has been inlaid.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of various black metal alloys, made of sulphur with copper, silver or lead, used to create decorative designs on other metals.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Italian, from Medieval Latin nigellum, from neuter of Latin nigellus, diminutive of niger, black; see nekw-t- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian niello, from post-classical Latin nigellum, from Latin nigellus ("blackish").

Examples

  • Italians still call 'niello' work, or the enamelling of designs upon precious metals.

    Ave Roma Immortalis, Vol. 2 Studies from the Chronicles of Rome

  • The Fuller Brooch is a large disc made of hammered sheet silver inlaid with black niello and with a diameter of 11.4 cm.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • Cast and engraved bronze, partly inlaid with niello, 44.3 cm.

    Cosmophilia: Islamic Art from the David Collection, Copenhagen

  • The Fuller Brooch is a large disc made of hammered sheet silver inlaid with black niello and with a diameter of 11.4 cm.

    The Fuller Brooch - not a manuscript

  • Cast and engraved bronze, partly inlaid with niello, 44.3 cm.

    Archive 2006-08-01

  • In addition to the usual Buddhist emblems there are musical instruments, exquisitely inlaid, or enriched with niello work of gold and silver of great antiquity, and bows of singular strength, requiring two men to bend them, which are made of small pieces of horn cleverly joined.

    Among the Tibetans

  • His fingers continued to rub at the pattern on the sheath, black niello inlay on silver plating.

    Lord of the Isles

  • He could work both in the Celtic mode, those lovely patterns of strongly angled but fluid lines, and also in ways learned, so he said, from the Saxons in the south, with enamel and niello and metals finely worked as filigree.

    The Wicked Day

  • The tall silver-clad woman, flanked by two male attendants in silver niello half-armor, came out and stood at the right side of the stage.

    The Golden Torc

  • A couple of sensor spots and a niello of letters and numbers were its only distinctions.

    A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Niello is a black metallic alloy of sulphur, copper, silver, and usually lead, used as an inlay on engraved metal. It can be used for filling in designs cut from metal. The Egyptians are credited with originating niello decoration, which spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.

    _Wikipedia

    This process is used in making nielloware jewelry.

    January 25, 2008