noun \nē-ˈe-(ˌ)lō\
plural ni·el·li \-(ˌ)lē\ or niellos

Definition of NIELLO

:  any of several black enamel-like alloys usually of sulfur with silver, copper, and lead
:  the art or process of decorating metal with incised designs filled with niello
:  a piece of metal or an object decorated with niello

Origin of NIELLO

Italian, from Medieval Latin nigellum, from neuter of Latin nigellus blackish, diminutive of niger black
First Known Use: 1816



Definition of NIELLO

transitive verb
:  to inlay or ornament with niello

First Known Use of NIELLO


Rhymes with NIELLO


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Black metallic alloy of sulfur with silver, copper, or lead, used to fill designs that have been engraved on the surface of a metal object, usually of silver. The black sulfides are powdered, and after the engraved silver has been moistened, the powder is spread on it. When the metal is heated, the niello melts and runs into the engraved channels. After the excess niello is scraped away, the surface is polished. The contrast of the black niello against the bright surface produces an attractive decorative effect. During the height of its popularity in the Renaissance, the technique was widely used for embellishing liturgical as well as utilitarian objects. Nielli (objects decorated with niello) were produced in ancient Rome and 9th-century England. In Russia niello work is known as Tula work.


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