Definition of niello in US English:



  • 1A black compound of sulfur with silver, lead, or copper, used for filling in engraved designs in silver or other metals.

    • ‘Taking advantage of the relative ease of inlaying with niello, casemakers used it to create a variety of decorative motifs such as plants, figures, and geometric patterns.’
    • ‘Along with enameling, decorating watches with niello was a common practice in the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘It consists of a series of wide and narrow bands of rinceaux, arabesques, and garlands in niello and filigree, with one lower section including an arcade with figures.’
    • ‘The object is then heated at a low temperature causing the niello to fuse, become viscous, and finally cement itself permanently to the metal.’
    1. 1.1 Objects decorated with niello.


Early 19th century: from Italian, from Latin nigellus, diminutive of niger ‘black’.