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Everyday dishes - china vs porcelain

September 13, 2007

I have narrowed down my search for new everday dishes to 3 but I still feel I need to educate myself better on the products. My old set lasted almost 17 years (wedding gifts) so I have high hopes for this one - crazy dreamer that I am. All 3 are white with a simple white pattern.

A. Lenox Tin Can Alley - Bone China

B. Crate & Barrel Halo - Bone China

C. Crate & Barrel Entree - Porcelain

Any experience with these? The stores tell me the bone china will be tougher and last longer but I am still afraid of the everyday use - old habits die hard. My old stoneware/earthenware had cracked glazing, especially from the microwave and I really want to avoid this.

Lenox has a breakage replacement program where you can purchase for 1/2 price for the life of the pattern if a piece breaks. That sounds nice but it is more expensive from the start.

I'm ready to take the plunge as my husband has promised me a new set for my birthday. Love him.

Comments (22)

  • les917

    If your old set was earthenware, it was not meant to be microwave safe. so that would explain the cracks and crazing.

    If you are looking for simple white everyday dishes, have you checked Penney's? They have a sale going on, plus free shipping. IMO, by not spending so much for everyday dishes you can feel free to replace them sooner if you want a change. I love Lenox, and my good china is from them (pattern discontinued now, so the replacement offer is of no use). But I bought some great white stoneware (from Penney's, a pattern they don't carry now) for my everyday stuff. I love the fact that in a few years if I want something different, I only spend $99 (free shipping that time, too) and can give them to my sons for their first apartments or donate them. Mine are micro, dishwasher and oven safe, and are great!

    Here's a link to their white dishes, in case you are interested:

    white dishes

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    I wouldn't get something from Crate and Barrel only because I don't think you'll be able to buy more pieces easily if you need to. Lenox will always be available somewhere even if it's discontinued.

  • zeebee

    I agree with Bumblebeez about C&B. I love their stuff, especially glassware, but they re-design and discontinue stuff every season. 'Tis a problem if you want matched pieces.

    If you do want to replace with the same pattern, Williams-Sonoma has restaurant-style classic white stoneware that never changes.

    Here is a link that might be useful: W-S Basic Dinnerware

  • txnewmommy

    I use bone china for my daily dishes. We have used our china day in & day out for 6 years and have no chips, crazing, cracks, or breaks whatsoever! My previous stoneware broke much more easily!

    My "everyday" pattern is Wedgwood White China. I love that it can be dressed up or down and has such a simple beauty.
    My everyday dishes: http://www.wedgwoodusa.com/shop/collection.asp?id=500&cat=L&terms=C12

    Since it does not have any gold or silver ornamentation, it is dishwasher & microwave-safe.

    My "special occasion" china is also a Wedgwood china pattern but with more ornamentation. I often use the two together. It is quite a versatile combination!
    Here is my "special occasion" china: http://www.wedgwoodusa.com/shop/collection.asp?id=501&cat=L&terms=C12

    Here is a link that might be useful: My everyday bone china dishes

  • kitchendetective

    I don't want to hijack the thread, but it may be relevant. I have two Wedgwood patterns, Strawberry and Vine, which is all white with no metal, and Ashbury, which is blue and white with some gold detail, and the vendors said that Wedgwood advises against using a dishwasher. I never even considered using the microwave! They are older, so that may account for the difference.

  • txnewmommy

    Kitchendetective, thanks for telling me about that. I bought mine online so I did not have a vendor who could advise me about care for the dishes.

    Wedgwood's website says that for patterns w/o metal ornamentation, the dishwasher & microwave are fine.

    Your post makes me wonder though . . . I'll have to look around online to see if any vendors have more information.

    Thank you!

    Here is a link that might be useful: care of wedgwood

  • DLM2000-GW

    Wow, les - thanks for the JCPenney link and tip on shipping. Service for 12 in porcelain for $60????? Can't beat that. I've been looking for new dishes because the white ones I bought at World Market get gray marks from flatware, chip like mad and craze from heat. That bargain was no bargain! Penney's has 2 patterns that I like but both come with cups and saucers - I never use saucers, prefer mugs and don't mind having mugs that don't match - makes for a more interesting table. So I never know what to do with the cups and saucers - store them, give them away, have them take up valuable real estate in my cabinets?

  • greenmtn

    Thanks for the great input so far.

    Les - Checked at Penney's the other day and the ones I liked (great deal) looked really bluish next to all of the soft white in my kitchen. Shoot.

    I should go look at the WS ones in person.

    Yes, I am concerned about Crate & Barrel discontinuing patterns and what I would do. That is one of the benefits of Lenox or Wedgewood (which by the way I love your china newmommy).

    dlm - You are so right about the saucer/cup/mug thing. I have found many now sell a 4 piece setting that has the mug vs a 5 piece setting with cup/saucer. We are mug people so I like that flexibility.

    Hmmm... more to think on.

  • les917

    I know what you mean about the cups and saucers, and the new set I got is mugs instead. BUT, what I miss about having the cups and saucers is that I found the coffeecup was a nice size for giving my kids (and me) a serving of ice cream - portion contolled, and handy to hold by the cup handle. I also used the saucers for small sideplates sometimes.

    But when the price is low enough, I guess I figure if you don't use the cups and saucers, it is still a good deal, and you can donate them or sell them as a set of 12 for someone who does a lot of entertaining. Or, glue the cups to the saucers with craft glue. Fill the cups with either wax and a wick to make candles, or with pretty silk or dried florals, or with potpourri and set on a table in the LR or family room or bedroom. Since they are plain white, you could also get the craft paint that can be used on dishes and stamp or paint some designs to decorate them before filling.

  • lindac

    Bone china and porcelain are both high fired and very very durable...much more than any stoneware pottery etc. I also love that it's light weight and I can easily carry a stack of plates.
    But as has been said, I would buy the Lenox because it will be easier to fill in if you want to add or replace.
    Linda C

  • patricianat

    China any day. I can hardly stand to drink coffee unless it is in a China cup. I scour flea markets and antique stores for China cups and saucers to use on a daily basis for myself, my family and guests. When I had a porcelain sink I was always breaking a cup or a saucer (not everyone does but I have MS and sometimes just drop things) so with my flea market and antique store finds, I don't sink into a puddle of tears when I break one as there are no 2 alike but it has been a really neat collection for me and my guests and family love having china to drink coffee from and 2/3 sons will not drink coffee from anything else anymore and have adopted my habit. :)

  • DLM2000-GW

    sorry to hijack - les, you won't believe this. DH came home for lunch, I showed him the dishes, he said don't wait just buy it. But when I tried to buy, got this message

    Nothing was added to your bag.
    The selected item is currently unavailable.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrr! So I called Penney's in Vernon Hills - they have it in stock and will hold, can't ship, too heavy, BUT their sale price is $69.95, not the web advertised $59.99 AND I have to go get it! They even went onto the website from there and said it shows $69.99 to them - what??? Nice woman in the department said print out the page and they will honor it. Thank you les - I will have new dishes this weekend!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Elegant Pearl

  • marys1000

    I bought a whole 8 piece set of Noritake bone china (Nichole) at a dept store warehouse sale once dirt cheap. It was lightweight and lasted forever. I think I broke 2 pieces in about 15 years and finally sold the lot at a garage sale.
    (FYI Never used the dishwasher much but did put it in the microwave)

  • rococogurl

    Even china that is "microwave safe" can show crazing after repeated use. We put our Gien dishes into the microwave but the crazing is starting to show so I hauled out some old glass plates and we're using those now. Or paper.

    Before I bought any china that I thought I would use in the micro, I'd buy a piece, put some water in it and test it. Zap it on high for 1 minute and see if the piece feels hot. If it does, it will be ok but have a shorter life. The cooler china stays, the longer it will live.

    All dishes are made from some type of clay. Stoneware -- anything that looks brown/beige when chipped -- has a high mineral content -- which means metal particles that heat up in the wave.

    Porcelain and china have less, but always good to test first.

    Re: Crate & Barrel. I bought a set of dishes there 5 years ago and they still have the same ones. I can still add any pieces. Some of their stuff is trendy; some is staple. Not everything goes away.

    I personally like to buy dishes in house sales or auctions. That way you don't pay "retail" whether you shop at Crate or Penneys. Waay cheaper.
    Added a link to an extensive list of tableware sources on Atticmag; some basic; some discount; some simply droolworthy

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tableware Sources

  • les917

    DLM2000, those are a great choice - love the pearl edge detail.

    How far is Vernon Hills from you? Glad they are honoring the price. Otherwise, I am close to Yorktown and could try there for you.

    I noticed that there is a coupon floating around on the coupon sites for an additional 10% off in store if you use a Penney's card. Just thought I would mention it.

    Lots of reasons that glazing can craze, as Roccoco mentioned. One thing that does happen, tho, is that some dishes are advertised as microwave safe 'on low power' - which doesn't mean reheat a cup of coffee on Hi, but warm something at 30% power. Earthenware is often labled that way.

  • DLM2000-GW

    Thanks, les - that's sweet of you. Im in Highland Park so it's not a big deal - and besides it's an excuse to get out to Hobby Lobby! I had a Penney's card years ago but I prefer NOT having a lot of cards. We generally use paper plates in the micro but trying to get away from that habit, too - there's always one more hurdle to cross isn't there?

  • walkin_yesindeed

    Dlm200, I grew up in Highland Park! FYI re the price: saw this thread last night and spent a bit of time wandering around the Penney site. Couldn't find anything else I wanted to kick my order up to $99 to get the free shipping, so I gave up and went to bed. This morning thought I'd try again from work. Suddenly the Elegant Pearl was $69.99, as opposed to the $59.99 shown last night -- and it's backordered till December. I don't have an option, as it's not in any local stores... you're lucky to have found it at Vernon Hills!

    Sigh. I miss Chicago. Les, dlm, have some real pizza for me.

  • laurenjay

    Stay away from Crate and Barrel. I bought it and after about a year it looked awful. The glaze started wearing away and was terribly scratched.

  • morfydd

    I'm pretty brutal with my dishes - everything goes into the dishwasher unless it doesn't fit. (It helps that I grew up in a family of china collectors and could easily find a dozen new settings in my parents' boxes.) My Noritake is fine, including the platinum edging. The Waterford loses the platinum edging, which is ok as I've mixed the pattern with the plain-edged version.

    Since everything has a metal edge, I don't microwave them, though I do throw pieces in the oven to reheat from time to time, and everything's fine.

    Bone china is *tough*. So's lead crystal. Use it and enjoy it.

  • greenmtn

    Oh no, Laurenjay. Which Crate and Barrel did you have? I really love the C&B Halo bone china and was just about ready to go buy it. I would love to hear if you had stoneware, porcelain or bone china and if you remember what pattern. Thanks.

  • greenmtn

    I wanted to update you on my final choice since everyone was so kind in giving advice. I purchased the Crate & Barrel Halo bone china dishes and I LOVE them. I have had them for about 2 months with no problems. I love how light they are yet how sturdy they have been.

    I had my old dishes for 17 years so it has been so nice to have something fresh when I open my cabinets.

    Here is a link that might be useful: My dishes

  • les917

    Glad you have new dishes to love! They are very nice, and could be dressed up or down for a variety of uses. Enjoy!

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