Selecting your Fine China pattern is the first step to setting your table. Your china pattern should complement the fine crystal stemware and flatware you've selected into one unique look for all your special occasions, as well as your everyday table.
Quality And Durability
The illusion that fine china is fragile and delicate can create a perception that it should be handled more carefully than your everyday dishes. This is not necessarily true. Although we should not be banging our fine china unnecessarily, it can actually withstand the use (and abuse) that your standard stoneware and earthenware pieces do. A number of factors go into establishing the quality level of any dinnerware.
- KILN TEMPERATURE
The temperature at which clay is fired helps to define its durability. The higher the temperature, the more durable the end product. Fine China is fired at the highest temperatures - resulting in tableware that is dishwasher safe and even microwave safe, with the exception of those patterns with metallic banding and decorations.
- CLAY CONTENT
All ceramics start with a base of clay. The more refined the clay the more non-porous and durable the product. As you move up the scale in the quality of dinnerware, so does the temperature at which it is fired. The clay content of better china will include additional materials such as silica (sand), quartz and feldspar.
- VITRIFIED CERAMICS
Vitrified is a very important term in understanding the quality difference in dinnerware. Vitrified means "glass-like". The more vitreous the ceramic, the harder, more translucent and non-porous it becomes. Fine China is vitrified as it includes materials like silica (sand), which turns to glass when fired at the highest of kiln temperatures.
Combine the features defined above to determine the quality of any dinnerware. The highest quality china will be comprised of the most refined clays that include portions of silica before being fired at the highest temperatures. High kiln temperatures vitrify the china, making it extremely hard, durable and smooth - and of course, beautiful. Here are the most common types of dinnerware.
Fired at the lowest kiln temperatures, earthenware is the oldest form of dinnerware and contains a number of impurities making it fragile and absorbent. Earthenware can be found both glazed and unglazed. Decorative earthenware pieces can be found within many dinnerware patterns in the form of serveware items and some individual pieces. Some earthenware items should be placed in a cold oven to heat up gradually to avoid cracking due to extreme temperature changes. However, it will always be best to check each pattern's specific care instructions.
Stoneware is fired at higher temperatures than earthenware, making it more durable and chip resistant. Most stoneware is dishwasher safe and like earthenware, it may require a gradual change in temperature. Stoneware will usually be microwave safe, assuming no metal banding or decoration is present.
Porcelain is a durable, non-absorbent ceramic that is fired at the highest kiln temperatures. Porcelain is impervious to bacteria growth. It is dishwasher, oven and microwave safe and is ideal for all uses at the table and in the kitchen.
- Fine China
Fine China is actually another name for Porcelain. Better quality porcelain will be thin and translucent, yet resistant to chipping and cracking. Although it looks delicate, it is quite durable. It is generally dishwasher safe and microwave safe, assuming no metal banding or decoration is present.
- Bone China
Bone China is in the same family as Fine China, however its clay content includes a percentage of bone ash. Bone ash helps to create a whiter, more translucent ceramic, resulting in one of the finest, most durable additions to your table settings.
Why all the talk about durability?
Fine China is not just for the holidays any more. As you begin to browse through the many patterns in our Fine China assortment you will soon find that there is a style that will, of course, set your table for formal affairs, but also your everyday meals that can be set to look equally as special.
WHAT YOU NEED TO SET YOUR TABLE
Fine China is generally packaged in both five-piece place settings, as well as open stock (individual pieces). A place setting usually includes:
- DINNER PLATE
- SALAD PLATE
- BREAD AND BUTTER PLATE
NECESSARY SERVEWARE PIECES
Depending on the pattern you choose there will be an array of serveware pieces that can be selected to complement your place settings. Items can include larger serving items such as covered vegetable bowls and platters, as well as individual items to complement your five piece place settings, such as cereal bowls and charger plates.
Other common serveware items include:
- Soup Cup and Saucer
- Rimmed Soup Bowl
- Sugar Bowl and Creamer
- Gravy Boat
- Vegetable Serving Bowls
- Covered Soup Tureen
See each pattern for the specific items available to coordinate with your place settings. Adding a wide selection of serving pieces to your Fine China collection is ideal for accommodating your entertaining needs. Once a china pattern is selected, take a moment to see what else there is to complete your table.