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10 January 2010 @ 11:29 pm
Bone china vs. porcelain  
What is the functional difference, if any, between bone china and porcelain?

I'm deciding between two sets of dishes that are identical in design. One is bone china (link to it here) and one is porcelain (link to it here).

Google gives me conflicting reports that bone china is harder and more durable -- or that the only difference between the two is that bone china is slightly whiter. The bone china is more expensive ($12.99 for a dinner plate, vs. $5.99 for a porcelain dinner plate).

Both sets are dishwasher and microwave safe, and oven-safe for reheating.

So I ask: is there a functional difference between the two materials? Is bone china less likely to chip or get scratched in use? Will it last longer? Is it worth the difference in price? Or should I go for the porcelain because it's pretty much the same and cheaper?
tudorpot: mason jartudorpot on January 11th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
When choosing china you need to decide if it's for everyday or special occasions. The second link is not working, but from what I saw of the first, it is very plain and suggests that you might be using it for everyday. I use the Evesham Vale- Wedgewood everyday. I bought it in 1988 and it is still in great shape, dishwasher, kids etc. Good dishes are an investment that pays off just like good pots or linens. If they are both square dishes- not classic- I would buy the cheaper set. You might find the trendy set of this year is not appealing in a few years, and be wishing to get a more classic setting.

Edited at 2010-01-11 05:00 am (UTC)
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 11th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'd be using it for an everyday set.

I worried about it being too trendy too. My fiancé and I are registering for wedding presents, and he had a strong preference for the square dishes, whereas I was planning to go for some classic round rimless white dishes. Having seen the square ones in person, though, I'm a lot happier with them. They definitely have a more modern look vs. a classic/traditional look, but because they are white and rimless, I think they'll hold up in terms of style.
Carolyn Graceangellic_devil on January 12th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC)
make sure the square dishes fit in your dishwasher!!!! we bought some that didn't fit properly and it was a total pain in the ass.
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 12th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Oooo, that's a good point. I'll head out and buy a sample one just to make sure. (As discussed, they're cheap, so buying a sample isn't a big deal.)
Ms. Dchapstickqueen on January 11th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 11th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
I found that one, but it mostly told me about how bone china is made, not as much about the differences in how it responds to daily use.
Melli the Fragglefragglefemme on January 11th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC)
Personally, with that shape and simplicity, I'd go for the cheaper option. Are you anticipating having elaborate formal dinners where the people involved would actually know the difference between porcelain and bone china and look down their noses at you if you had plain porcelain? If so, then maybe get the spendy stuff. Otherwise, get the porcelain and consider yourself set :)

As a disclaimer, we're CB2 plate family, lol. That's a step up from the Corelle I grew up with and had when the Boy was a baby, lol.
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 11th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)
Lol, if I was planning to have elaborate formal dinners with snobby people I'd probably be getting much more expensive and traditional-looking china in the first place :) Also, I'd need a new house and a new dining room table (right now it's the cheapest table and chairs from Ikea, which is a step up from the one we filched from someone's curb in college with four mismatched chairs likewise filched from the curb).

Yeah, I'm really thinking the porcelain is the better choice. It seems to be almost as durable and considerably less expensive.

I grew up with Corelle dishes too and have had K-mart stoneware ($9.99 for service for 4!) since I went to college. :)
rhyme_writerrhyme_writer on January 11th, 2010 11:00 am (UTC)
Bone china is made with bone, thus making it more durable, more expensive, and more likely to still be around in 200 years as a family heirloom. If you hold it up to the light, you will probably see your hand through it. It has gone through more firings, as well.

It is a good idea to USE your china, not just save it and use it for special occasions. And it is also a good idea to put it in the dishwasher; the high temps in the wash and the dry cycles serve to bake it even more.

Lenox china is an example of fine china. Royal Doulton and Wedgwood are examples of fine bone china. Or at least that's the way it was 30 years ago when I worked in the industry; it can certainly have changed since then!
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 11th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm definitely planning to use it every day. I doubt this will become an heirloom set, though. It might, of course.
Nerdy Girl: indy cloudbookgrrrl on January 11th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
archaeologist here...
Bone china is a bit more durable, but not by a whole lot. It is not only whiter, but when you hold each plate up to the light, the bone china should be a little bit translucent. The difference has to do with the paste- bone china has calcium phosphate (bone ash) versus a kaolin/feldspar combination. One was traditionally an export from China (hence the name) versus the bone china which was how English potters tried to recreate the same effect.

I'd go for the cheaper option myself, if the pattern is the same. Only reason to go with the bone china would be if you forsee this becoming an heirloom that you pass for generations, though with care you could do that with either one.
snowmentalitysnowmentality on January 11th, 2010 01:31 pm (UTC)
Re: archaeologist here...
Makes sense! Archaelogist perspective FTW.

Yeah, I don't see this becoming an heirloom set. It might, of course, but it's not the current plan. Probably my parents' china (which is bone china) will become the heirloom set.
sweetest_asylumsweetest_asylum on January 11th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
i have no opinion on this, but thank for starting off my morning itunes playlist with bone china by mother love bone!!!!
termofarttermofart on January 11th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
I see that other commenters have chimed in on the issue of strength, but if I remember correctly, bone china is also markedly lighter than porcelain. Which can be a bonus when you're hoofing around a ton of dirty dishes.

There is one issue with square plates, though, they are harder to carry. I know that sounds weird but in my experience they are way more prone to tipping and it's not as easy to balance them as it is a round plate. (I'm talking when you're holding one in each hand, and they're full of food.) That rounded square might make a difference, but I'd check on that in person if I were you.

funpufffunpuff on January 12th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
I have banged bone china around, by accident, and never broken any. It's very durable.