Definition of niello in 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.’
    • ‘The object is then heated at a low temperature causing the niello to fuse, become viscous, and finally cement itself permanently to the metal.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1Objects decorated with this.


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