Special or fine dinnerware has always been the center of dinner tables. There is something about beautiful dinnerware that makes people want to stay just a little longer at the dinner table because they’re inspiring and special. Suppose you are not used to buying special dinnerware or buying anything that you see in the supermarket. In that case, start learning the differences so you will have better-informed decisions when shopping for new dinnerware.
What Type of Dinnerware Is Best for Everyday Use?
Despite the similarities of various kinds of dinnerware, there can be a world of differences between these materials. Their durability and the material sourcing differ, too.
Just so there is no confusion, you may encounter terms like “fine dinnerware” and “crockery” when buying dinnerware. These terms are used interchangeably, and they do not indicate the material used to produce the dinnerware. You have to look closely at the product description or the collection’s box to see what the dinnerware is made of.
- Bone china – Bone china is the most common of all chinaware. They’re widely available, budget-friendly, and come in a multitude of sizes and designs. If you want cheaper china, go for bone china. However, note that this china is heavier than the more delicate china, and they are thicker in design, too. If you don’t mind adding heavier china to your collection, then, by all means, go for bone china.
- Earthenware – Earthenware is one of the oldest classes of dinnerware around. They’re classy and elegant, and there is always a touch of hominess when you use earthenware. If you want to deviate from the trend since everyone else uses ceramics and whatnot, then go for earthenware.
The only difference with earthenware is it is not as resistant as other china to heat, and you can’t microwave these, either. Avoid subjecting your earthenware to extremes of hot and cold, as these may crack easily. Place the serving on your earthenware plate to be safe after the cool-down.
- Porcelain – Porcelain is the most easily recognizable type of dinnerware. People associate porcelain with fragility and beauty, and the whiteness and fineness of porcelain are excellent for very dainty dinner table arrangements.
Porcelain retains much of its whiteness because it is fired at ovens heated from 1200°F to 1400°F for hard-paste and soft-paste porcelain clays. Kaolinite is the prime choice as the base material for high-quality porcelain china. Generally speaking, high-quality porcelain can be used in the oven, microwave oven, and dishwasher-safe.
- Melamine – Melamine is synthetic/plastic and is not to be confused with china. Many melamine dinnerware is dyed and smoothened out to mimic ceramics and porcelain, but you can spot the difference immediately once you use them. Melamine dinnerware tends to have an aged look after a few months as the smoothened surface gives way to friction and food heat.
The advantage of using melamine dinnerware is that it’s very hard to break them, and if you drop them from table height, the most that you will get is a loud clap or bang. Melamine dinnerware is dishwasher safe, but it may not be used in the microwave or oven for obvious reasons.
- Stoneware – Stoneware is a class of its own because it is subjected to an extra, special step called the finishing glaze. Stoneware is best known for its very smooth and shiny finishes that stand out once you serve the dinnerware on the table. The impermeable qualities of stoneware make these pieces a nice choice for heirloom dinnerware sets, and they’re a good pick for families.
Between stoneware and earthenware, stoneware will be more durable in a drop test and general situations where chipping is possible. However, we do not recommend putting your stoneware in the freezer or super-heating these, either. They might crack, too. Should you have stoneware at home with some hand-painted designs, you may want to skip the dishwasher so you can preserve the hand-painted designs.
Is Stoneware or Porcelain Better?
It’s challenging to pick between these two because they’re both excellent choices for dinnerware. However, let’s look at the various factors that might help you decide between them.
If you are looking for something more durable, then stoneware is a better choice because it is more durable than the average china. If we look at this dinnerware’s appearance, go for porcelain if you want a purer look with minimal designs.
Some people are naturally minimalistic, and porcelain dinnerware responds to that need. If you want dinnerware that has a wonderful aesthetic finish, then stoneware is the better choice. Another factor here is the accents.
Metallic accents on the dinnerware are nice, but that also means you can’t put the porcelain in the microwave as the metallic accents can damage the microwave oven. This has always been the general rule with ceramic ware or porcelain – if you see any metallic accents, the dinnerware is not safe for use in the microwave oven.
Are Porcelain or Ceramic Plates Better?
Porcelain is a type of ceramic ware, so it’s best to look at the actual limits or capacities of the dinnerware you are buying. For example, some porcelain dinnerware sets are marked as microwave-safe, oven-safe and dishwasher-safe. These marks are a good indication that you are buying high-quality porcelain. Not all porcelain is oven-safe because the material used may not be dense enough to withstand the temperature inside the oven. It’s also a plus if you see “chip-resistant” on the box. That means the porcelain or ceramic has been fired at a temperature high enough to make it super durable. The finish may also be helping keep the durability up.