Niello Pocket Watch Chain with Niello Ends
Presenting for offer this .800 Silver with black niello enamel pocket watch
chain. The large links measure 1-1/4" each and the chain measures 13-1/2" total.
Near Mint condition.
The niello watch case became a canvas for outstanding art works that will likely
never be duplicated. The term niello comes from the Latin word nigellum that is
the diminutive of niger (black.) It was a technique used by the ancient Greeks,
Romans, Egyptians and Persians. Niello is a black or blackish-blue composition
of lead, silver, copper, sulfur and ammonium chloride. The mixture is fused onto
an engraved or cut-out metal base by firing the mix in a process similar to
champleve' enameling. Silver was the most often used metal for niello objects
since the soft white silver color contrasted beautifully with the darker niello.
Rose-gold inlay work was also seen in combination with niello and tri-color
effects were achieved by the use of rose-gold, niello and silver. When the
niello was heated and fired onto a silver watch case, it actually fused with the
silver very strongly, almost as if it were soldered in place. The niello would
be filled, finished and polished, leaving the surface of the watch case smooth
One can readily assume that the process of engraving the areas which
were to be filled with niello, the firing stages, and the finishing stages were
very time consuming and therefore costly. Aside from the production end, the
niello cases also had to be designed by artists who would pre-determine the
subject matter and then the cases were finished by engravers who produced the