Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of materials into depressions crafted out in a base object to form patterns or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix. These pieces are usually in shades that contrast with the base object. Often, coloured pieces are used for inlays.
In a wood matrix, inlays commonly use wood veneers, but other materials like shells, mother-of-pearl, horn or ivory may also be used. Pietre dure, or coloured stones inlaid in white or black marbles, and inlays of precious metals in a base metal matrix are other forms of inlay. Master craftsmen who make custom knives continue a tradition of ancient techniques of inlaying precious metals. Additionally, many new techniques which use contemporary tools have also been developed and utilized by artisans.
Marble-inlay art is seen extensively in Indian architecture since ancient times; particularly in palaces and havelis. It is also seen in Mughal architecture. Even today inlay-work in marble is seen in artifacts as also in flooring in hotels and lavish homes.