Fine bone china and porcelain china, what are their differences? What should you know to make the right decision about what to buy? On today’s post, I’ll share with you examples of each so you can make informed decisions – a foundation of gracious living.
It all starts for me with this picture of a gorgeous antique Minton pate sur pate bone china plate, below, found on my Pinterest Page about Gracious Entertaining, here.
You will often hear the term *china* and/or *porcelain* used interchangeably to refer to many types of tableware, but there are major differences between fine bone china and porcelain. What are they? Fine bone china is translucent, its clay body is white and, while still strong, it is more fragile than porcelain.
What gives real bone china it’s beautiful whiteness, translucent quality and fragile nature? Fine bone china has at least 25% bone ash added to its kaolin [ clay ] body. It’s the addition of this bone ash that creates these 3 distinctive differences between fine bone china and porcelain. A vintage piece is shown below to demonstrate bone china’s translucence. If it’s porcelain, you won’t be able to see this shadow effect.
Beautiful fine bone china is the epitome of luxury, but its practicality for family dining is limited due to its fragility. Although bone china’s kaolin [clay] body is still strong and is used on the finest tables in the world, porcelain’s clay body is stronger, and I recommend you choose fine porcelain if your children are often dining with you at table.
One of the earliest and finest makers of porcelain in the world is Wedgwood. You can read a timeline of their history, here. Founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood, the piece below, part of the infamous *Frog Service*, ordered by Empress Catherine II of Russia, is now in the collection of the Wedgwood Museum, and is one of my favorites, especially due to the story behind it, which I attached with the picture.
Today, Wedgwood has updated its offerings. In addition to continuing to produce its more well known patterns, the Wedgwood company licensed designer Jasper Conran to create this porcelain collection for them, known as *White Chinoiserie*, along with many others that you can find designed by Mr.Conran for Wedgwood, by clicking, here.
Interestingly, last year, my post on creating Dramatic Focal Points with English Chinoiserie, here, was your #1 favorite, readers.
Clearly, Chinoiserie is a timeless, traditional decorative motif that continues to resonate down through the generations.
This video, here, of how fine porcelain by Wedgwood is manufactured, shows their collaboration for London Fashion Week, with the British fashion and accessories brand, Mulberry. It’s a wonderful video that will help you understand the painstaking hand craftsmanship that goes into owning a collection of fine tableware that can be handed down through future generations.
If you still have your heart set on fine bone china, however, Royal Crown Derby , would be my first choice. Here you can see Prince Charles, on a visit to their factory with the Duchess of Cornwall, trying his hand at the delicate hand painting:
If you’re more adventurous, their collaboration with world famous ceramicist and design director for Asprey’s, Peter Ting, who reinterpreted their famous IMARI pattern, might be one you would like.
But if you’re a classicist like me, this Royal Crown Derby fine bone china pattern could be the one for you.
If you haven’t yet selected your own first set of fine bone china or porcelain, I hope this post has helped to educate you in the differences, so you can make an informed decision. Who else is looking forward to the wedding celebrations coming up this spring and summer? One day, it will be my daughter, Amy’s, turn ~
What pattern do you have? Is it bone china or porcelain – please let me know in the comments below and if you have any other questions on fine tableware, please let me know. I’m here to help you learn to enjoy your lives through gracious living, timeless design and celebrating family traditions.
Leslie Hendrix Wood