My mom has a couple different fine china brands of dinnerware — none of which I’ve ever seen on a table. It got me thinking: What companies make fine china and what would I want to know about buying dinnerware? I tackle the questions in this article.
First things first …
Fine china dinnerware is often referred to as porcelain. They are synonymous. But note: Porcelain is different than bone china.
Bone china is made just like porcelain china — except with one ingredient: bone ash. Bone ash gives the dinnerware a warmer white color compared to porcelain.
Fine china brands list
Note: This list is not comprehensive. It lists companies that currently make bone china dinnerware and porcelain dinnerware.
Some designer brands are offered under one company.
Example: kate spade new york, Sharon Sacks, Scalamandre, Marchesa, Gluckstein, Donna Karan dinnerware are under the Lenox brand.
If I could find the designer and overseeing brand, I listed both. I tried not to list “collections” offered by a manufacturer because they were not a brand.
Although this list is a work in progress, it does provide a good starting point.
- 10 Strawberry Street
- 222 Fifth
- BIA Cordon Bleu
- CAC China
- Carmona New York
- CRU by Darbie Angell
- Donna Karan
- Dudson China
- Front Of The House
- Hakusan Porcelain
- Homer Laughlin
- Hotel Collection
- ITI (International Tableware Inc.)
- Jasper Conran
- KAHLA – PORCELAIN FOR THE SENSES
- kate spade new york
- Kim Rody Creations
- Lorren Home Trends
- Martha Stewart
- Maxwell & Williams
- Merdinger House of Design
- Monique Lhuillier for Waterford
- Nikko Ceramics
- R.W. Smith & Co.
- Red Vanilla
- Reed & Barton
- Rene Ozorio China
- Royal Albert
- Royal Copenhagen
- Royal Doulton
- Royal Porcelain
- Royal Worcester
- Sant Andrea
- Sharon Sacks
- Vera Wang Wedgwood
- Villeroy & Boch
- World Tableware
Why use fine china?
Special occasions and formal dinners are an excellent use of china, especially if it has an elegant or intricate design.
The “different” dinnerware can make a special night for family members, or a special guest may appreciate the formal dinnerware and take away a good impression.
Variety is another reason. Good china does offer various styles and patterns — sometimes much more ornate than standard, casual dinnerware.
Heirloom pieces are a reason people consider this type of dinnerware.
Although heirloom pieces may have sentimental value, they may also have monetary value if it is antique or vintage and / or from a well-known fine china manufacturer.
Tips for buying dinnerware
The first thing to consider when buying dinnerware is your budget.
You can find different sets in a wide range of prices with everything from an affordable price to extremely expensive.
Know how much you want to spend — whether on fine bone china or everyday-use stoneware.
The next thing you will want to consider is what you will be using it for.
Are you going to use it on only special, formula occasions or will it be for everyday use? This may make a big difference in the type you are looking to buy.
You may also be looking for two different sets. One could be used for everyday and then another for more formal occasions.
Number of place settings
Think about how many people you will be serving. You should not only think about the people in your home, but others that you may be serving as well.
It is also a good idea to add in a couple of extra settings for unexpected guests or if you have a piece that breaks.
There are three different ways that it is often sold. The first, and most common, is a set, which includes cups, plates, and bowls.
The sets are most commonly sold for four or eight settings. In this case, you will need to determine how many sets you will need.
The second way it is sold is by open stock. This means that you can select the number of pieces you would like to buy. You can purchase eight dinner plates and only six bowls if you would like. This also allows you to mix and match colors if you would chose to.
The third way is by the place setting, including the plates, bowls, and cups. You can determine how many place settings you would like and then order that many.
There are a variety of materials used to make dinnerware.
Depending on what you would like to use it for and how durable you would like it to be will play a part in the type you choose.
Earthenware – Porous material that is often glazed. Although it appears durable, it is quite fragile.
Stoneware – Non-porous material, heavy, and hard. It is a more durable piece.
Ironstone – Similar to stoneware, but looks more like porcelain.
Glass – Can be clear or colored. It is more fragile.
Melamine – This is made of plastic and will not shatter.
Porcelain – This is a non-porous piece that is durable and looks similar to glass.
Bone china – It is similar to porcelain and has a milky, white appearance.
Pattern, color, and shape
You will want to find something that fits your taste and style. You should not feel that you are limited to just round, white plates. There are a number of different colors, patterns, and even shapes that you can choose from.
If you would prefer to have square or rectangular plates, you will be able to find them. You could also look for plates that have a rustic pattern or bold colors. Whatever your tastes are is what you should look for.
Able to be replaced
In most homes, there is bound to be a piece that will end up broken. At that point you will likely want to replace it.
If you buy a set on clearance, you may not be able to easily get a replacement piece. Looking for a well established brand is beneficial in knowing you can get a broken piece replaced.
For instance, the featured image at the top of this article is an antique fine china brand bought in the late ’70s. It was discontinued a long time ago, and replacements are difficult to get.