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Non leaded Niello question

The problem is as follows. I am trying to make pendants in silver
which I try to embellish with gold foil and niello. Keum-booing the
gold foil to the silver is not difficult. I never made niello myself
and I do not intend to. Instead, I bought some from Fischer in
Pforzheim. Their niello does not contain any Pb and this raises the
fusing point of the niello to such an extent that, when I try to
apply it to the silver, the gold starts to disappear into the silver.
There seems to be no solution for this. The fusing point of the
niello is just too high. I am not even sure that I apply the niello
the correct way. I found an old email in the Orchid archive, saying
that the application of niello without pb is different from niello
with pb, but the author of this email does not deal with these
differences. If I can ask you, what would you do in this situation?
In case the niello wouldn’t work, is there any realistic and feasible
alternative which I can try?

Thank you very much for reading.

With best regards,
Will Denayer

If I can ask you, what would you do in this situation? 

Will, can you reverse the order, and do the niello before you apply
the gold foil?


If its melting temperature is so high that the gold is sinking into
the silver then I would think one could change the order and apply
the niello first then fuse the gold foil after fusing and finishing
the niello?

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

You would have to look at the periodic table and try to come up with
a non lead bearing low melting solder that would make a blackish
sulfide … Maybe bismuth as a lead substitute, a fundamentally non
toxic metal??? see:

The original probably came from processing natural sulfide metal


Will, Sounds like the fusing temp. of the non-leaded niello is
burning off the keum-boo. If you have a small pen-plater, you could
instead plate the gold accents on after the niello process is

Hope this helps.

Lyn Punkari

Out of the 41 niello formulas I have collected from written sources,
only 5 are without lead. Three are Pliny’s—he burnishes warm
rather than fusing, so that may be a solution for you! The remaining
2 are: one from Braun-Feldwig and an almost identical one from Oppi
Untract’s first book. I’m afraid my books are in storage til I move
to my new studio premises, but if you can get a hold of the first
Oppi book, perhaps he has some suggestions for you…

The formulas appear in my Orchid posting from Wed Nov 20, 2002.

Janet in Jerusalem