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Before purchasing your dinnerware set, there are several factors to take into consideration. Just selecting a pattern is not enough. Which is the better choice—bone china or stoneware? Can you tell a charger plate from an accent plate? How will you maintain your dinnerware? Before you start choosing a pattern, let's discuss the information necessary to build an outstanding collection of dinnerware.


In this day and age, fine china and ordinary dinnerware may be used interchangeably. Though the materials differ, you may utilize them any way you wish. Dare to be different—serve an ordinary week-night meal on fine porcelain, or an elegant dinner on sturdy earthenware. The choice is yours!

Bone China

The strongest of china materials, bone china is lightweight, and gleams in the sun. Consisting of a double-fired combination of porcelain and bone ash, bone china possesses a semi-opaque, pearly quality.


This luxurious favorite is long-lasting with a lustrous, impermeable finish, due to high firing temperatures. As with bone china, gold or platinum rings are sometimes added to emphasize porcelain’s high luster.


Created as an alternative to porcelain, ironstone is very sturdy and long-wearing.
Also possessing many durable traits, ironstone is less formal and more suited to ordinary use.


Sturdy, non-porous and ideal for daily use, stoneware is defined by the dense weight that renders it amazingly strong. Its natural earth colors are frequently glazed for an enduring shine.


This natural ceramic remains one of the most popular age-old materials of the earth. Earthenware, with its robust weight and simple appearance, provides good value for ordinary mealtimes.

The Essential Place Setting

With a packaged 4- or 5-piece place setting, setting your table is simple. These combinations will provide you with a functional blend of items.

Dinner Plate

The large-sized dinner plate is the staple item of your table setting. It is ideal for any meal’s main course, ranging from an official brunch to a simple supper.
Salad Plate

Ranging in size from 4 to 8 inches, the salad plate is suitable for appetizers, crudités, and-of course-salads. It can double as a useful dessert plate, and is the perfect size for a simple breakfast.

Bread & Butter Plate

This plate, a bit smaller in size than the salad plate, is usually kept for bread and rolls. It is also useful for sprinkling olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping bread.

Soup/Cereal Bowl

The all-purpose soup/cereal bowl may be used for a wide variety of food, including
chili, ice-cream, rice, oatmeal, fresh fruit, salad and many other dishes.

Teacup & Saucer

The traditional round teacup with a stylish handle fits neatly into the indented middle of its matching saucer, to prevent drips while drinking tea or coffee.

Place Setting Extras

For formal occasions or holiday dinners, you will need these functional, additional pieces. These extras turn an ordinary table setting into a really stylish one. Adaptable and attractive, these extra pieces are likely to be used on a regular basis!

Rim Soup Bowl

The wide rim of this pleasing dish makes it an excellent choice for a main course
such as pasta, stew, or a chop, such as Osso Buco covered in sauce.

Charger Plate

A bit bigger than a dinner plate, the charger lies beneath a place setting for additional effect. The rim peeps out to provide a pleasing contrast to the pattern of your dinnerware.

Accent Plate

Living up to its name, the accent plate is an eye-catching piece. With alterations in color or pattern ranging from slight to bold, the accent plate is utilized well for side dishes or small cakes.


Larger than a dainty teacup with a comfortable handle, the mug provides you with a hot drink of satisfying size. It may be used all day, from your first morning coffee to your bedtime cocoa, with a hot toddy or soup in between!
Ranging from fruit bowls and pickle dishes to turkey plates and teapots, entertaining is simple when you have the right selection of serving ware. Available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, these useful pieces make your table look more attractive as well.


Round or oval-shaped, decorated or plain, every meal requires a good platter. Think about size, material, and features such as handles, that will be most convenient for you.

Vegetable Bowl

The vegetable bowl is a time-honored serving piece, holding warm vegetables, mashed potatoes or main-course meat stews. It is often topped with a lid or has a fine base to maintain heat and provide for simple serving.

Serving Bowl

The serving bowl in its range of sizes functions as a multi-purpose dish. It can handle everything from large salads, rice, and couscous, to snacks like popcorn and fresh fruit.

Gravy Boat & Stand

The aptly-named gravy boat is adds a touch of elegance, and makes pouring easy for salty and sweet sauces. Its partner, the stand, helps catch any drips and provides a more formal appearance to your table.

Pickle/Relish Dish

At a buffet table, cold condiments and snacks are served in this long, slender dish. It is useful also for serving a tempting array of small appetizers.

The traditional teatime creamer adds elegance to any occasion. It can also serve as a purely decorative piece on your table when not in actual use.

Covered Sugar Bowl

The sugar bowl and its lid are identified easily by shape. A pleasing accessory to your table, the sugar bowl plays a vital role at coffee and teatime.


Treasured throughout the ages in all parts of the world, the classic teapot is an essential piece for entertaining, with its pleasingly plump shape ideal for steeping.


Coffee lovers find this carafe essential. Taller than a teapot, the coffeepot’s large capacity and heat-retaining ability help you enjoy several cups of your favorite brew.

Care Tips

Check the label first to see if an item may be safely used in the dishwasher, microwave or oven. A wise rule to remember is that any piece with gold, platinum, or metal trim is not safe in the microwave.

Clean carefully; do not soak earthenware or hand-painted dinnerware. Rather, use a mild detergent and fine-bristled brushes to maintain its vibrancy for many years.

Avoid drastic changes in temperature. Even the most durable materials do not adapt easily to extreme temperature changes. To prevent damage or breaking, allow hot dishes to cool off before introducing cold, and vice-versa.


Savvy flatware consumers expect their flatware to last for years—or even lifetimes. Even the most casual set of flatware will likely be used for almost every meal in your home. Heirloom quality sets are an investment that should last for generations, lovingly passed along through the decades. It follows, therefore, that a good deal of thought and planning should be put into your choice of flatware. Regardless of your budget and needs, quality flatware options include something for everybody.

Ranging from traditional to modern, decorous to casual, you can find a wide variety of flatware to suit every preference. However, there is more to know about flatware than a fancy pattern or a simple one. One should learn about the three C's of flatware: Composition, Care and Components. This knowledge will help turn your table into a truly impressive one.


Sterling Silver

Although sterling silverware is traditionally used in formal dining, its use at any time can turn an everyday meal into an elegant event. This valued flatware, composed of over 90% silver, is durable, scratch-resistant and fashioned for a lifetime.

Silver Plated

Less expensive than sterling silverware, silver-plated flatware usually consists of brass, nickel or stainless steel which is then silver-plated. Though the thickness of the plating is variable from one pattern to another, the gleaming appearance of silver will always add elegance to your table.

Stainless Steel

Flatware made of stainless steel consists of several iron alloys. Commonly designated as 18/10, 18/8 and 18/0, these refer to the amounts of chrome and nickel in the alloy. The first number is the percentage of chrome which is added for greater strength and resistance to corrosion. The second number is the percentage of nickel which provides a silver-like gleam to the flatware. When stainless steel is described as 18/10, it contains 18% chrome and 10% nickel. This type is the best quality stainless steel as it is durable and shines like silver. Next best is 18/8 and then 18/0.
Understanding the different types of construction will help you select flatware that is best for your purposes. Learn about these flatware constructions to understand weight and feel. The choice is ultimately yours.

Hollow handled

This type of flatware is made in three separate pieces, providing both excellent
balance plus lightweight feel.


When a pattern is stamped upon a single piece of metal, these handles are the result, producing flatware with a strong, solid weight.


First heated and then struck, forged flatware consists of clear, pure patterns. Forged pieces resemble stamped handled flatware, also consisting of one piece with a weightier feel.


You will be pleased to know that everyday flatware is easy to maintain. Stainless steel, sterling silver and silver-plated flatware may be cleaned safely in the dishwasher. Still, it’s wise to check the specific care instructions that come with your flatware. Especially if your flatware has alternative metal or decorative enamel details, hand-washing may be suggested. Towel-drying your flatware after dishwasher use will prevent those unsightly water spots. Keep in mind that sterling silver and silver-plated flatware may sometimes need polishing to maintain that lovely, like-new gleam.


5-Piece Place Setting

You could try to piece together your own flatware collection but the easier way is to purchase pre-assembled sets. The traditional 5-piece setting is made up of these requisite components: a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, dinner spoon and teaspoon. Larger settings may incorporate additional pieces such as a cream soup spoon. Depending on your dining and entertaining needs, you will most likely select eight to twelve place settings in total.

Hostess/Completer Sets

About to host a dinner party? Supplement your flatware collection with the convenient addition of a hostess/completer set. These practical sets usually consist of a tablespoon, pierced tablespoon, cold meat fork, sugar spoon and butter knife. A pie/cake server, gravy ladle or casserole spoon are often included in some sets.

Setting The Table

There is a set formula to setting the table but it's not as complicated as you may think. Actually it's all quite logical. Keep in mind that flatware is arranged around a dinner plate depending on what will be used first. On the outermost left-hand side of the plate is the salad fork, followed by the dinner fork. On the outermost right-hand side of the plate, place the teaspoon first, then the dinner spoon and dinner knife. Usually a butter knife is placed above the bread/rolls plate. For more casual mealtimes, it is fine to set only the flatware you need, using this same order to keep it simple.

Storage Chests

The best way to maintain your flatware in top condition is inside a storage chest. Besides keeping your flatware neatly organized, many chests have lined interiors to prevent tarnishing and provide protection from scratches caused by frequent movement.

Crystal Stemware

Crystal stemware pieces have the ability to turn ordinary drinks into exquisite, sparkling causes for celebration. Crystal stemware is formed by blending crystal, a semi-precious stone, with other materials, resulting in consistent, high-quality craftsmanship. Some manufacturers add lead into the blend of crystal components, while others produce entirely lead-free products. Although an overabundance of lead may be hazardous and should not be used for storage purposes, higher percentages of lead often translate into greater sparkle and weight. While most crystal is machine made, hand-blown crystals are a delicate option for very special occasions.

Crystal stemware comes in numerous styles: classic, modern, old-world, and decorative. Bear in mind that the shape of the glass may well affect the drinking experience. Tinted and cut glass are beautiful options, but may detract from the full appreciation of the wine’s natural color.

While the ideal stemware set includes a red wine glass, white wine glass, and champagne flute, you may consider the all-purpose goblet if your budget is tight. If your budget has flexibility, you may consider adding both water and burgundy glasses.

Red Wine Glass

The classic red wine glass is discernable by its large bowl and wide mouth, allowing full-bodied wines to breath. Bordeaux and Burgundy are two of the most common styles; Bordeaux glasses are the taller of the two. Taller glasses tend to be more suited for full-bodied red wines; shorter ones are more appropriate for light-bodied reds.

White Wine Glass

White wine glasses are narrower than red wine glasses. White wine glasses are generally grasped from the stem, allowing the wine to remain chilled.

Champagne Flute

Champagne flutes are tall, slim glasses designed for the maximum enjoyment of sparkling beverages. The champagne flute’s distinctive design serves to keep champagne chilled, bubbly, and tasteful.

Cocktail/Martini Glass

Cocktail glasses, also known as martini glasses, are stemmed glasses with cone-shaped bowls. The cocktail glass design enables drinkers to grasp the glass without affecting the temperature of the cocktail or martini.

Brandy Snifter

Brandy snifters are recognizable by their very short stems. The snifters are meant to be cupped in the palm of your hand, warming the brandy and bringing out its aroma.

Highball Glass and Rocks Glass

Although not typically considered part of the crystal stemware collection, many party enthusiasts choose to complement their stemware collections with glasses for other beverages. Highball glasses are tall and slender, and are used for iced drinks. Double old fashioned glasses, also known as rocks glasses, are discernable by their short, round design which is ideal for scotch or water.
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