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What Should I Consider When Buying China?

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  • Written By: A Kaminsky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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Even though many of us make do most of the time with paper or plastic plates, many people still want to buy china. Brides and others setting up households generally want something they can call “the good dishes” to use when company comes. Buying “good china” may seem like a daunting process, but it really isn’t.

In general, department stores with bridal registries, full-service jewelry stores and other fine shops carry fine china. The first thing a buyer will notice is that the stuff is expensive. However, it is also meant to last a lifetime. China comes in a variety of patterns, shapes and sizes. Many brides buy two sets of china: one for everyday use and one for more formal use.

Of course, a buyer looks for patterns that he or she finds attractive. These vary among manufacturer, but are often purchased to match the kitchen décor. Everyday china should be purchased based on durability, as well as pattern. Good everyday china has some “heft” to it, and may remind the buyer of stoneware. This means it is not as likely to shatter if dropped and resists chips and cracks, all of which are important for everyday china.

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Fine china is lighter and more elegant than everyday china. It often features rims of gold or platinum, so the buyer must know whether it can go in a dishwasher or microwave. The number of patterns available is astonishing, so a buyer will want to consider carefully, before buying, what patterns he or she likes and is willing to live with for several years. One idea gaining popularity is to buy a basic set of good china with a plain pattern, and supplement it with brighter pieces such as dessert plates or demitasse cups.

China may be sold by the place setting or by the piece. In everyday china, a place setting often consists of a dinner plate, salad plate and cereal bowl. Cups and saucers are usually separate. With fine china, a place setting is a dinner plate, salad plate, cup and saucer, with bowls separate.

For all china, serving pieces such as vegetable bowls and platters are all sold separately. The buyer should ask about what pieces are included in a place setting. Many brides begin with four or six place settings in each pattern, although they may want more pieces of their everyday china to start out.

A buyer can expect to pay from 50 US dollars (USD) to well over 100 USD for a place setting, depending on the manufacturer and pattern. The buyer should also ask whether the manufacturer plans to continue the desired pattern for the foreseeable future. If not, then the buyer should find something else, because he or she may want to replace pieces in the future, and it is good to know they will be available.

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