Cutlery Buying Guide
Consider the following when shopping for cutlery:
- Consider how often you will use the cutlery you are shopping for. Stainless steel cutlery that can be cleaned in a dishwasher, for example, is far better suited to everyday use than sterling silver cutlery that must be hand washed.
- Bear your existing dinnerware in mind when choosing a cutlery set. Try to create a sense of continuity by matching shapes, design features, colours or patterns.
- Pay attention to the weight of each piece of cutlery when making a choice. Remember that young children are likely to find lightweight cutlery easier to use.
- If you can’t decide on a style of cutlery, it is sensible to opt for a timeless design. After all, most cutlery is intended to be used either every day or to stay in the family for generations so it’s wise to opt for a style that you won’t tire of quickly.
- If you are investing in high-quality cutlery, ensure that it comes in a lined storage box as this will help to keep the pieces in optimal conditions and increase their lifespan.
Features of Cutlery Sets
The easiest way to upgrade the cutlery in your home is to purchase a cutlery set that is composed of everything you need. Cutlery sets do, however, vary between manufacturers. Bear the following in mind when making your choice:
- Most starter sets contain 24 pieces, which is enough for 6 basic place settings (6 knives, 6 forks, 6 spoons and 6 teaspoons). Such a set is ideal for anyone looking for cutlery for everyday use.
- 56-piece sets usually contain cutlery for 8 dinner and dessert settings (8 table knives, 8 table forks, 8 soup spoons, 8 dessert forks, 8 dessert knives, 8 dessert spoons and 8 teaspoons). These sets are perfect for anyone that entertains.
- Where possible, opt for cutlery made by a reputable and popular brand as this will make your life easier if you ever need to replace any lost or damaged items.
The material used to make cutlery impacts upon how easy it is to clean and how long you can expect it to last. While your choice is likely to be dictated by your budget, it may help to be aware of the following:
- Sterling silver is traditionally used for formal dining settings. Composed of more than 90% silver, this valuable material resists scratching and breaking and is designed to last a lifetime.
- Silver plated cutlery is a more affordable alternative to sterling silver. It is usually made of brass, nickel or stainless steel and finished with silver plating. Generally the thickness of the silver plating determines the quality of the design.
- Stainless steel is a hardwearing, dishwasher safe material. Stainless steel cutlery is usually marked (in order of quality) 18/10, 18/8 or 18/0. These numbers show the percentage of chrome (for durability) against the percentage of nickel (for sheen).
Cutlery is made using three main production methods, each of which can affect the weight and the feel of the item. To ensure that you know what you are buying, be aware of the following:
- Hollow handled cutlery is made from three sections that are welded together. The main advantage of this method is that it makes for lightweight, well-balanced pieces.
- Stamped cutlery is made when a shape is stamped into a single piece of metal. This creates cutlery with a solid feel that can be used in formal and informal settings.
- Forged cutlery is made from a single piece of metal that is heated before being struck into shape. Forged cutlery has a certain heft that makes it ideal for special occasions.
Caring for Your Cutlery
Looking after and cleaning your cutlery in the correct fashion can extend its lifespan and keep it looking like new. Where possible, try to follow these simple guidelines:
- Cutlery should be rinsed immediately after use as this will help prevent staining and acid build up. If you dry your cutlery immediately after cleaning, you can reduce the appearance of spotting and water marks.
- Never use scouring brushes, bleaches or wire wool to clean your cutlery as this can cause permanent damage. Similarly, never leave cutlery to soak as this can lead to corrosion.
- High-quality cutlery needs to be stored in the correct conditions. Ideally, this means keeping it in a felt lined cutlery tray or wrapping it in acid-free paper to prevent oxidisation.
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