Niello is a black metalwork technique that fuses to a metal base. In the case of this chain, it’s fused in a striped motif over silver. It holds a metallic luster that is very strong. Ancient Egyptians likely created this technique. The Ancient Romans made use of it as well, spreading the technique throughout Europe during the Roman occupation. During the Renaissance, it met its height in popularity as Francesco Francia and Maso Finiguerra (both goldsmiths and artists) mastered the skill. The niello trend came back again at the end of the 18th century and stuck around until the beginning of the 20th century.
This fine example of the niello technique comes in the form of an antique Victorian niello watch chain which was handcrafted in silver around 1880. It features chunky niello striped clasps at each end of a line of striped niello bar links that alternate with gold washed bar links that each have an engraved twist motif. Measuring 15 inches in length, this stunning neck length chain measures 3.6 mm wide and 1.1 mm in thickness. It weigh 12.9 grams and it bears the silver purity mark, “835”.
Timeless in modern history and timeless in design, this classic is the perfect accessory for almost any occasion!
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