Selecting dinnerware for your restaurant sets the stage for your dining room’s tone and enticement. A key consideration is which type of tableware best fits your establishment’s interior design. There are multiple options in the commercial china market, fulfilling different needs for different customers. When shopping, keep the following properties in mind to make the best decision:
- Fineness of grain
- Color after firing
- Ability to apply decoration
Porcelain and bone china differ in appearance, composition and production. Below is a summary of each material’s characteristics to guide you in making your decision.
Porcelain’s Primary Characteristics
- White, hard, permanent, non-porous pottery
- Made from a combination of feldspar, quartz and kaolin
- Less expensive and heavier than bone china
- Brittle composition leads to more chipping
- Available in varying degrees of whiteness ranging from ivory to blue-grey to bright white
- Comes in two types
- Soft Paste – creamier in color and somewhat porous
- Hard Paste – purer white color and non-porous
Bone China’s Primary Characteristics
- Translucent and fine composition
- Made from kaolin, feldspar, quartz and bone ash
- The quality is determined by the total amount of bone ash included
- Opaque texture and appearance
- Thin-walled pieces give a more delicate appearance, but offer more durability than porcelain
- Lighter in weight than porcelain
- Bone china white has a warmer tone to it; often described as “snow white”
For more details on the properties and production process of porcelain and bone china, see our in-depth Bone China vs. Porcelain Guide.
Shop our Premier Collections to view our offerings in both bone china and porcelain dinnerware.
- Many people are confused as to the difference between “china” and “porcelain”. Actually, the two terms describe the same product. The term “china” comes from its country of origin, and the word “porcelain” is Latin, meaning seashell. It implies a product which is smooth, white, and lustrous. The term “porcelain” is preferred in Europe while “china” is favored in the United States.
- The production of bone china begins in a similar fashion as porcelain china but includes an extra ingredient, bone ash. This is a white powdery substance and the byproduct of incinerated animal bone. Bone ash gives the body of the plate a unique milky white color.
- Bone ash adds translucency to the body of the dinnerware, and makes the dish stronger by making it softer. By making the dinnerware less brittle, the bone ash makes it more resilient and less likely to break. Often times, you can place your hand on the back of a plate and hold it up towards a light. If you can see your hand, it’s likely bone china! Otherwise, the dinnerware product is most likely porcelain.
- Bone china offers a slightly more elegant appeal due to the lighter weight and body composition. It’s typically a bit more expensive than porcelain due to its manufacturing process and overall elegant perception.
- Porcelain is generally thicker than bone china products
- Porcelain is forged at a higher temperature – averaging around 1,455° Celsius / 2,650° Fahrenheit
- Bone china offers a slightly more elegant appeal due to the lighter weight and body composition
- The durability of bone china is based on the percent of bone content. While industry minimum is 30% bone content and stronger, higher grade product goes up as high as 40-45% bone content, R.W. Smith’s Venu collection is composed of 48% bone content.
- Both Porcelain and Bone China are microwave- and dishwasher-safe.
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