Statistics show that on average a household would buy only three flatware sets in a lifetime. It might seem hard to make such an important decision but think of it this way- there are two main things that you should consider: how the set feels and how it looks.
If you are still struggling, let our guide break down the basics for you and help you choose the best flatware set.
What are Flatware Sets Made of?
Made of at least 92.5% pure silver, sterling flatware is a true heirloom. It is an expensive investment but think of how it will be passed down generations to come. Also, compared to other materials, sterling silver makes for the most elegant and formal of dinnerware. It is highly recommended to keep sterling flatware in felt pouches when not used for longer periods of time.
Considered as a less-expensive alternative to sterling, silver-plated flatware is just as durable and offers the same amount of elegance. It has a 100% silver coat on top of another metal such as nickel or brass. Keep in mind the thicker the silver coat is, the better quality the flatware is.
Stainless-steel flatware sets are the most common you can find on the market, so it is important to understand how to determine which is of good quality. If you look at the back of a fork or a spoon, you will notice there are different numbers engraved, ranging from 18/10 and 18/8 to 18/0. These numbers indicate the percentages of the different metals added to the steel. The numbers 18/10 mean that there is 18 % chrome and 10% nickel. This is the best grade you can find because the higher the nickel content is, the more protection the flatware has from corrosion; 18/8 would be mid-range flatware and 18/0 is the most prone to rust and obtain damage.
The main benefit of acrylic-handle flatware is that you will have a huge variety of styles and patterns to choose from. They can look stunning on formal occasions as well as everyday use.
Pewter sets are a great option for vintage and retro lovers. They provide a rustic feel and beautiful patina. Best of all, they do not need to be polished.
How Many Flatware Pieces Do I Need?
The term referring to the number of utensils needed to eat a simple meal is called place setting.
Three-Piece Place Setting. This is the minimum of pieces you can find, and the setting includes a dinner knife, dinner fork and a teaspoon.
Four-Piece Place Setting. The difference with the four-piece place one is that it includes a salad fork, which is popular within an informal setting because it can be a substitute for a dessert utensil.
Five-Piece Place Setting. This is the most common choice for everyday use because a soup spoon is added, usually for cereal or a multi-coarse meal that starts with a soup.
Six-Piece Place Setting. If you would like to have a separate knife for spreading butter, cheese or other condiments, the six-piece place setting offers you a butter spreader knife.
Seven-Piece Place Setting. This type of setting might feature an iced beverage spoon, popular in hot and humid regions, or a seafood cocktail fork, which is mainly used for appetizers.
How Many Place Settings Should I Purchase?
It might be obvious, but it all depends on how many people will need to be fed and if you have guests often.
Four to eight place settings is a standard for a couple days' use. If you are looking to entertain more people, you might have to choose between 12 and 16 place settings.
Retail and specialty stores sell flatware by the place setting, but you might be tempted to choose open stock, which sells individually packaged utensils. However, market research has shown that by purchasing an arranged place setting, you can save up to 30%.
How Do I Know Which Set Will Be Most Comfortable to Use?
Weight and Balance
Deciding on the weight mainly depends on your personal preference but you should know that flatware that are egregiously back- or front-heavy can throw off the entire balance of the utensil. Other pieces that are light can be too thin, which can be associated with cheap and easily bended. A high-quality product will typically be classified as medium or heavy weight.
Length and Shape
European flatware usually comes with elongated fork tines and this has spread as a trend with many American companies as well. Longer and thinner tines are said to bring more elegance to a table. As for spoons, some European design are grotesquely huge, which makes them uncomfortable to be used. Spoons differ mostly in the shape of the spoon bowl, which can be deep or shallow.
Stamped knives as the name suggests are cut or stamped from large sheets of steel. Before they go through the polishing process, the blades are rolled to strengthen them. This makes for a lightweight knife because the blade would be as thin as the handle.
Forged knives are constructed from a single piece of steel and they tend to be heavier because the handles are made from a thicker metal. Unlike the stamped ones, forged knives are sturdier and have better edge retention. If you are going to choose this type of knives, make sure you notice if there are any rough spots, which can make the utensil more prone to corrosion.
Hollow-handle knives are made from three separate pieces: a blade and two half shells that make the handle. The blade is forged the same ways as forged knives, but it is the handles that are brazed together, which creates the hollow center. There are different opinions on these knives since some might find them too light but most people say they are the most well-balanced.
The blade edges of dinner knives can vary. Knives with smooth edges are ideal for cutting tender food such as vegetables and chicken but do not work that well with steaks. However, you can always buy separate steak knives that will have serrated edges.
How Do I Know a Flatware Set is of Good Quality?
Have a look at the reflection in the bowl of the spoon. If it is smooth, it means that it has been through a good polishing process and will last longer.
Notice if the edges of the fork tines are rough or not.
The fork and knife should not be as light as a feather.