The difference between stoneware, porcelain and bone china tableware
You can get tableware in a range of different styles and designs, but it usually falls into one of three main types. These are stoneware, porcelain and bone china. Each has different properties, so is usually used in different settings – everyday use, when you have visitors, or formal occasions. What is the difference between stoneware, porcelain and bone china tableware though? Here is a description of each.
Stoneware is produced from stoneware clay or non-refractory clay. It is made with a single firing. This is different to the process used to make porcelain and bone china, where there are two firings. Also, the firing used to make stoneware is not as hot as the firing for porcelain or bone china.
This combination of the type of clay and the temperature of the firing gives stoneware a warmer look than the other options. It is also easier to decorate, and can come in a range of different colours. The decoration is usually by way of underglaze, but on-glaze and in-glaze techniques can also be used.
Stoneware dinner-sets come in a range of different designs, and is most commonly used as everyday tableware. Our favourite stoneware ranges are from Denby UK, Noritake Colorwave, Royal Doulton Olio and more.
As already mentioned, the process used to make porcelain involves two firings. The second firing is typically over 1,300 degrees Celsius. This is not the only difference between porcelain and stoneware though, as porcelain is also made from a different type of clay. The clay is kaolin clay, which is white. This is why porcelain tableware is white. The production process also involves covering the tableware in a clear glaze, which enhances the white even further.
This method of production means porcelain is difficult to decorate, but the appeal of porcelain tableware is the brilliance of the white. In addition, the designs are usually intricate and elaborate. This is made possible because kaolin clay is very malleable.
So, porcelain dinner-sets and tableware are stunning to look at. It also has a very hard surface, but it is brittle too. It is therefore usually used for special occasions. Our most popular porcelain dinner sets are from Noritake, Royal Doulton and Cornish Blue
Bone china is made from yet a different type of clay. It is a clay mixture that must contain a certain amount of bone ash. In the UK, at least 50 percent of the clay must be bone ash. In other parts of the world, clay that is 25 percent bone ash is used. The bone ash is mixed with refined clay.
Like porcelain, the process used to make bone china involves two firings, although those firings are usually at lower temperatures than for porcelain.
Before the firing the clay used to make bone china is white and translucent. China tableware is therefore slightly translucent. It is usually very thin and has a delicate appearance, but it is durable. It has a very refined and sophisticated look. It is sometimes used on a regular basis, but most people save it for special occasions.
In general, stoneware is the more practical choice – not least because it can be put in the microwave or oven. Porcelain and bone china tableware, however, are elegant and beautiful, so are ideal for entertaining.
The Denby Halo tableware range is made from stoneware and is a fine example of the deep colours that can be achieved during the firing process of stoneware
The Wedgwood Vera Wang Vera Colour dinner sets are all made from stoneware, offering extreme durability for everyday usage yet can be used for entertaining
The Royal Doulton Barber & Osgerby Olio Dinner Sets a proudly made of stoneware, showcasing their organic materials at the base of each piece to add a textural element to the table