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Dishes and Silverware Style

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 19 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Dinnerware Flatware Silverware China

There is a wide range of both dinnerware and silverware to choose from and if you are just beginning your collection, you may not be familiar with the terms. Here is a run down to help you out, and some tips for caring for silverware.


  • Basaltware: A type of dinnerware that is unglazed stoneware.
  • Bellek: creamy-coloured porcelain with an iridescent glaze that is produced in Ireland.
  • Bone china: A ware that was first produced in the mid-18th century by English potters. It's made of a highly refined clay mixture and bone ash, most of which is oxbone. The body is pure white, highly translucent and it's the most durable of the ceramic types.
  • China: A generic term encompassing all dinnerware but is most often associated with fine porcelain dinnerware. The name was coined because the very first dinnerware originated in China.
  • Delft: A type of pottery originating in Holland, in the city of Delft. It's characterised by a blue and white glaze decoration.
  • Dresden: A type of china that originated in Germany, in the city of Dresden. It's usually characterised by heavily-embellished white china.
  • Earthenware: A ware made from a mixture of clays and fired at a low temperature. Ironstone is a variation of earthenware.
  • Faience: A type of French pottery referring to high-fired glazed earthenware, usually bearing a highly colourful decoration.
  • Fine China: Thin, translucent china that, despite its delicacy, is quite strong. The term "fine china" usually refers to ware made of top-quality clays fired at high temperatures. The result is a hard, non-porous body.
  • Ironstone:A ware first developed in England that originally contained iron slag. It was the most popular dinnerware type before the introduction of china in Europe.
  • Jasper: A type of ware that was first developed by Josiah Wedgwood. It's usually characterised by a stoneware body with a satin finish. It's most widely associated with the blue and white ware, called "Jasperware," manufactured by Wedgwood.
  • Ovenware: A type of ware that is able to withstand oven heat without damage. It is also called oven-to-table.
  • Porcelain:Porcelain has become a generic term for "formal" dinnerware.
  • Stoneware: A ware made of a dense clay and fired at 2400 degrees, stoneware sometimes takes on a buff, grey or brownish tones.


With flatware you have three basic choices; silverware, silver plate or stainless, silverware being the most expensive. Whichever you choose there are hundred of different designs within each range. As well as price variations there are also different methods of caring for and cleaning flatware. Particular care must be taken with cleaning and storing silverware.

Caring for Silverware

Many people are concerned about their sterling silver tarnishing, but if you use it every day, it will actually tarnish less. Frequent use removes the need for polishing. Over time, your sterling items will develop a warm, rich tone called a "patina". A slightly darker shading (oxidation) in the design will develop and enhance the definition of the pattern.

How to Clean

Silver should be cleaned immediately after use, especially after contact with food that may cause corrosion or contain acids such as eggs, tomatoes, mayonnaise or salt. Wash in hot soapy water using a mild soap and rinse in clean hot water. Dry immediately to avoid spotting. Avoid lemon scented detergents and those containing chloride. They can be harmful to the silver.

Do not soak your silver overnight. Prolonged immersion in water may damage the metal. Washing in a dishwasher is not recommended, as the extreme temperatures may loosen hollow-handled pieces. If you do use a dishwasher, remove the pieces before the drying cycle.

How to Store

Your silver should be stored in an airtight silverware chest, in Tupperware, or in bags made of tarnish resistant cloth as exposure to air will accelerate tarnishing. Storing loose in drawers will cause scratching, and some woods contain acids that will stain the silver. Keep silver away from dampness and direct sunlight. Do not wrap in plastic, newspaper or foil or bind with rubber bands.

How to Polish

Polish with a soft cloth with any brand name silver polish, following directions. Dips are not recommended; they will remove the oxidation from intricate designs in the patterns. Never use toothpaste.

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