Bone china: Considered the best of the lot, bone china or fine china dinnerware sets are made with porcelain refined with bone ash and are great for formal occasions.
Porcelain: Porcelain is refined stoneware, made of fine clay, and is sturdy yet delicate-looking at the same time. Rely on porcelain dishes and bowls for durable and formal dinnerware.
Earthenware: Wonderfully vibrant, earthenware dinner sets are made with terra cotta clay. While these tend to be fragile and heavy, they make for excellent casual and rustic dinnerware.
Stoneware: Refined clay dinnerware that’s hard and heavier than porcelain, stoneware plates are casual and attractive.
Ironstone: These are durable stoneware plates and bowls, porcelain-like and with a casual finish.
Melamine: Look to durable melamine for casual and wonderfully shatterproof dinner plates - especially if you have young kids at home!
Glassware: Casual, clear or coloured and transparent or opaque, glassware bowls are light and practical for everyday use.
Different crockery for different occasionsBeyond the plates and bowls typically found in each crockery set, you’ll find highly specialised dinnerware for just about every dining purpose. Here’s a quick list to consider:
Salad bowls: Explore bamboo bowls for serving salads.
Bamboo plates: These are great for picnics and occasions that call for large gatherings.
Gravy boat: Also called a sauce boat, this is a boat-shaped dish that’s specifically meant for serving gravy or sauce at lunch or dinner.
Pasta bowls: A set of risotto and pasta bowls works perfectly for Italian meals.
Square dinner sets: Smaller, especially smaller rectangular dining tables work quite well with square dinner sets.
Apart from these specialised dishes and bowls, you’ll need to consider the usual wear and tear. If you’re likely to move a dish from the fridge to the oven (and vice versa) quite often, avoid porcelain as it will crack from the thermal shock. Consider buying only dishwasher and microwave friendly crockery sets if you’re always short on time.
This is just the beginning. As you browse more dinnerware online, you’ll find matching or contrasting dishes in embossed, textured, or plain patterns. Choose from a pre-defined set of dinner plates and bowls, or simply buy open stock dinnerware from suppliers who let you mix and match as you go along.