One of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process is getting to register for your wedding china set. However, if your only dinnerware shopping experience has been IKEA, it can also be intimidating. There are a few types of wedding china sets at various price points that you might encounter while shopping for your registry.
It is generally advised that you register for two sets of wedding china dinnerware – one inexpensive set for everyday use and the other set for special occasions that is typically more expensive. Not only is it fun to get to use this more expensive wedding china for holidays and other events, but it also can be an heirloom quality gift you pass on to your children.
If you’re registering for your wedding china and feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t worry! In this article we will explain the different types of wedding china sets you might encounter to help you choose the best options for your wedding registry.
The first type of wedding china set for dinnerware you might encounter is earthenware. Earthenware is pottery made of clay that you fire at temperatures much lower than stoneware or porcelain (1200°F or lower). Earthenware remains slightly porous after this first firing, and will readily absorb water if not glazed. Therefore, for both practical and decorative reasons, most earthenware goes through a second firing, or glazing, process.
It is made waterproof by the application of a transparent lead or tin glaze before a second firing. The two main types of glazed earthenware are defined by which of these glazing materials are used. When cream-colored earthenware is fired with a transparent lead glaze it is referred to as creamware. If the earthenware is covered with an opaque tin glaze it is referred to as tin-glazed or tin-enamelled. Historically, the most notable of this tin-enamelled earthenware was a blue and white variety from Holland known as delft.
Earthenware is typically considered to be the lowest quality of the types of wedding china sets for dinnerware because it is less sturdy and chips easily. However, it is also relatively inexpensive, making it a feasible option for casual, everyday use.
Stoneware is the next type of wedding china set to choose from. It is dense clay pottery that you fire at a much higher temperature (between 2000°F to 2400°F) than earthenware. This makes it non-porous and resistant to liquids even without glazing or a second firing. However, many times ceramic glazing is used for decorative purposes. Stoneware is strong, durable, and versatile, found in common household items such as coffee mugs.
Stoneware is generally a more thick and heavy product than earthenware and chips less easily. This makes it another excellent and relatively inexpensive option for casual, everyday dinnerware when considering wedding china sets.
The next type of wedding china set is of significantly higher quality and generally referred to as fine china or porcelain, typically used interchangeably. The term “china,” now being used as a broad term to include all dinnerware, was derived from the term historically being applied to this higher quality porcelain being imported to Europe and other regions from China.
Porcelain is made of ceramic material that you fire at much higher temperatures (2500°F or higher) than both earthenware and stoneware. It is noticeably thin, fine, and delicate, and, unlike the other thicker types, is often somewhat translucent and bright white in appearance. While thinner and finer, porcelain is still rather robust, hard, and doesn’t chip or break too easily.
Fine china and porcelain are often intricately decorated with elaborate or simple designs or gold and silver rims added. The higher quality of this type of dinnerware makes it significantly more expensive. This makes fine china and porcelain the type of wedding china set you would use on special occasions like holidays and when hosting dinner parties.
Lastly, the other type of high quality wedding china set you might encounter is bone china. Bone china originated in England as a way to compete with the high quality porcelain being imported from China. Bone china and porcelain are similar in their thinness and strength. The main difference between the two types is that bone china uses ox or cow bone ash along with the ceramic materials. The delicate particles of burnt animal bone gives bone china its strength, characteristic warm, creamy, white color, and its exceptional translucency. To be considered high-quality bone china, you must make sure it consists of at least 30% or more of bone ash.
Just like regular porcelain or fine china, bone china is fine but very durable and more one the expensive side because of its high quality. This also generally classifies a wedding china set made of bone china for special occasion use.
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