Commonly referred to as "silverware," flatware complements Fine China and Crystal Stemware to complete any table setting. The flatware pattern selected should coordinate in style and design to the china and crystal stemware it will be placed with. An important part of selecting this addition to your table will be comfort. Better flatware does not necessarily mean heavier. In fact, look for knives with handles that are hollow for better weight and balance. Better flatware will also be constructed of the finest metals
One of the most common materials used to construct flatware today is stainless steel. Stainless steel is an "alloy", which is a combination of metals. Chromium and Nickel combined with steel create stainless.
The finest quality stainless steel will be 18/10 or 18/8. The "18" refers to the Chromium content and the "8" (or 10) refers to the Nickel. Chromium provides rust resistance, and Nickel gives luster to the finish.
Flatware which is silverplated has a coating of silver over a base of metal alloy. Nickel, Copper and Zinc are the metals most commonly used in the alloy. Keep in mind that silverplate flatware will provide the look of silver, though, over time, the plating may wear off.
Flatware that is made of Sterling silver is heavy and extremely durable. You may notice that Sterling silver is often made with the most intricate designs; a common feature that only adds to the brilliance and elegance of these flatware sets.
What you need to set your table
Better flatware tends to be packaged in 5 piece place settings. Each place setting consists of the following:
- Dinner Fork
- Salad Fork
Certain patterns may be found in 20 piece sets that include four 5-piece place settings as listed above. Everyday flatware most commonly offers service pieces sold in a "hostess set". Better quality flatware offers a few different options beyond a Hostess Set for their service pieces. These sets generally consist of the following pieces:
- Hostess Set - serving ladle, large serving spoon and sugar spoon.
- Entertainment Set - casserole spoon and server for entrees or desserts.
- Serve Set - pierced serving spoon, serving fork, and butter knife.
Included in the above could be a combination of the following items:
- SERVING SPOON
- SERVING FORK
- SUGAR SPOON
- MEAT FORK
- GRAVY LADLE
- BUTTER KNIFE
- SALAD SERVERS
- PASTRY/CAKE SERVER
Be sure to check with each vendor and pattern for those items available within a particular style.