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Bone China, Fine China, Porcelain … What’s the difference?

So many people get confused when looking at dinnerware by asking them self what is better quality? Bone China, Fine China or Porcelain. So we would like to set the record straight.

With the exception of some minor technical differences in manufacturing, Porcelain and China / Fine China are basically the same. Bone China does differ considerably in manufacturing but the reality is ALL China including Fine China and Bone China is Porcelain.


Similar to the automotive or electronics industry, the global dinnerware market has its bottom end and top end as far as quality product goes. For those purchasing a $20 dinner set at a discount store the manufacturing quality of this item shall not be as refined or complex as the standards required by leading brands in the industry. There is a marked difference in products in the market especially where their finish, chip and scratch resistance, texture, porosity and composition quality go. Like all things you truly do get what you pay for.

Tableking is very selective as to which companies it purchases its stocks from as only the best quality shall suffice to meet our product standards and guarantees. The companies and their respective brand names have the same exacting standards of perfection we do. That way you can be certain your dinnerware purchase shall be:

  • Superior Strength
  • Superior Quality
  • Scratch Resistant
  • Chip Resistant

Porcelain VS China?

With the exception of firing specifications during manufacture, for all intentional purpose Porcelain can also be described as China, Fine China and Bone China. The world common reference of the term ‘China’ is in short because China is origin of ‘China tableware products’.

The name porcelain describes ‘ceramics’ baked at high temperatures. These products have low porsity, vitreous and glassy qualities. The English developed what is referred to as Bone China in the 18th century and without going into manufacturing processes, Bone China is Porcelain with a percentage of Bone Ash added to it so that the product can be manufactured if required very thin in its composition compared to other types of porcelain. Ironically, stigma and confusion have followed both names (porcelain and china) for decades. If you went to Europe the term porcelain is seen as a far superior product to china or bone china and the reverse is seen in the UK market.


Soft paste porcelain appears generally chunkier in the body of the product

Porcelain / Fine China can vary dramatically in thickness of the body of the product. Many formal ‘fine china / porcelain’ products are quite refined and thin in appearance (unless compared to the generalised appearance of a super fine Bone China product). Certain Porcelain / Fine China products in casual dinnerware ranges are somewhat thicker than formal designs so they can embrace either an embossed or relief styled underglaze pattern in the body such as the Noritake Baroque White, Fleur de Provence, Floral Bay ranges just to name a few. Some Porcelain / Fine China products have a composition of Bone Ash in them but not enough to call the product Bone China. This results in a product which is being both a very high strength but at the same time comes under a Fine China umbrella making it more affordable on the market for the consumer.

Bone China is generally known by it’s very fine delicate appearance ( much finer than Fine China ) a true testament to Fine Bone China would be the creations of the Royal Albert company.

What is Stronger? What is more durable?

As far as practical application is concerned, quality porcelain dinnerware is as strong as Bone China. The most noticable differences would be:

Porcelain / Fine China is generally thicker than Bone China products as far as tableware is concerned.

Some porcelain / Fine China products have been manufactured to be Oven to tableware safe (such as Bakeware etc found in our Noritake Arctic White and Denby James Martin ranges) whereas Bone China can not be used in the oven.

Porcelain / Fine China products made by the companies that Tableking deals with are of the highest standards and are used in both home and commercial hospitality applications such as coffee shops and restaurants.

Modern brand name Porcelain / Fine China is extremely chip resistant and in many cases as strong as Bone China products.

Statistically Bone China has become the most popular type of porcelain in the US and UK market place this is because it has the ability to look very elegant and streamlined due to its lightweight thinner body compared to standard porcelain / fine china.

Here are a few extracts from various websites regarding Porcelain, Fine China and Bone China.


Although porcelain is frequently used as a synonym for china, the two are not identical. They resemble one another in that both are vitreous wares of extremely low porosity, and both can be glazed or unglazed. However, china, also known as soft-paste or tender porcelain, is softer: it can be cut with a file, while porcelain cannot. This difference is due to the higher temperatures at which true porcelain is fired, 2,650 degrees Fahrenheit (1,454 degrees Celsius) compared to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,204 degrees Celsius) for china. Due to its greater hardness, porcelain has some medical and industrial applications which china, limited to domestic and artistic use, does not. Moreover, whereas porcelain is always translucent, china is opaque.

Hard-paste or “true” porcelain originated in China during the T’ang dynasty (618-907 A.D.); however, high quality porcelain comparable to modern wares did not develop until the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368 A.D.). Early Chinese porcelain consisted of kaolin (china clay) and pegmatite, a coarse type of granite. Porcelain was unknown to European potters prior to the importation of Chinese wares during the Middle Ages. Europeans tried to duplicate Chinese porcelain, but, unable to analyze its chemical composition, they could imitate only its appearance. After mixing glass with tin oxide to render it opaque, European craftspeople tried combining clay and ground glass. These alternatives became known as soft-paste, glassy, or artificial porcelains. However, because they were softer than genuine porcelain, as well as expensive to produce, efforts to develop true porcelain continued. In 1707 two Germans named Ehrenfried Walter von Tschimhaus and Johann Friedrich Bottger succeeded by combining clay with ground feldspar instead of the ground glass previously used.

Later in the eighteenth century the English further improved upon the recipe for porcelain when they invented bone china by adding ash from cattle bones to clay, feldspar, and quartz. Although bone china is fired at lower temperatures than true porcelain, the bone ash enables it to become translucent nonetheless. Because it is also easier to make, harder to chip, and stronger than hard porcelain, bone china has become the most popular type of porcelain in the United States and Britain (European consumers continue to favor hard porcelain).

Above Extract as found :


Porcelain — Fine China

( 2008-07-09 )

Porcelain, also called “fine china,” featuring its delicate texture, pleasing color, and refined sculpture, has been one of the earliest artworks introduced to the western world through the Silk Road. The word “china” clearly shows that the country is the “home of pottery and porcelain.”

Above Extract as found :

Bone China, Fine China, Porcelain … What’s the difference?

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