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Silverware sets are completed sets of cutlery and serving pieces, with each piece in the set composed of silver rather than stainless steel or some other type of metal. A single set may contain enough pieces to adequately lay a table for four people, although most sets will include a service for eight or twelve. A true silverware set is normally not used on a daily basis, but is utilized for holidays, formal dinners, and other special events.
A silverware set is not the same as a set of flatware. Flatware simply consists of cutlery pieces that are composed of a wide range of materials. A flatware set may contain pieces that are made with stainless steel, heavy duty plastic, wood, and other elements. In the strictest sense, silver-plated cutlery is not truly a silverware set, but would be classified as flatware.
It is important to note that there are different types of silverware included in a complete silverware set. Along with the basic table setting of a salad fork, dinner fork, teaspoon, and butter knife, the set may also include several different serving pieces as well. Typically, such pieces as a slotted spoon, solid spoon, meat fork, and gravy ladle will also be included in the set. Additional pieces such as cake knives, pie servers, and shrimp forks are often included in a complete silverware set.
Because silver cutlery and serving pieces can be expensive, it is not unusual for people to acquire a complete silverware set by purchasing one or two pieces at a time. Many retail establishments that sell silverware offer various patterns for sale as individual pieces. Alternatively, an individual who wants to eventually assemble a service for twelve may be able to afford purchasing a single place setting at a time until the entire service is collected. At that point, the collector can begin purchasing the various serving pieces to compliment the place settings.
People sometimes confuse a true silverware set with silver-plated cutlery. Typically, silver-plated items are simple stainless steel pieces that are coated with a thin layer of silver plate. While the appearance is very similar to that of true silverware, silver-plated items do not have quite the same gleam when polished. The main benefit of silver plate is that the cutlery is much less expensive than cutlery created from silver. However, silver-plated pieces are not likely to wear as well as true silverware and will need to be replaced within a few years. By contrast, a true silverware set can easily be passed on to the next generation and retain its beauty with regular care.
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