The word niello means two things.

One, is a black compound of sulphur alloyed with an amalgam of silver, copper and lead. The mix is then used to decorate gold or silver by filling up the incised metal, adding contrast and beauty at the same time.

Second, it has become synonymous with decorative metal work so created. The metal surface is covered with pulverised niello mixed with borax then heated cooled and erased where the solid metal is nor incised.

Both date back to the 11th century, and Russian Tula is a notable example.

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