Quick guide to choose the best flatware for your table

Surely, at some point in your life you have found yourself in this situation: "I want to buy cutlery, but how do I know if a cutlery is good and worth the price?" With this quick guide you will easily discover how to differentiate the good cutlery from the bad ones, especially when it comes to buying online.

Of course, there are cutlery options for all tastes, pockets and moments of our lives, and the prices will vary according to the materials they are made of and the number of units the set comes with. So when it comes to finding a good quality product, it is important that we ask ourselves the following 3 questions:

  1. What function will the cutlery fulfill in your home? For example, you will have to think what type of knife is best suited to the type of food you will be serving or if you are ok with a 4-piece cutlery set or your meals usually need more.
  2. What is your budget? Set a budget before you start researching. Based on what you need, do you prefer to make a larger investment and have a cutlery for life? Or do you prefer to buy some cutlery because you just moved alone to your first flat?
  3. What do I know about qualities? This is the point we are going to focus on in this post. After knowing what we want and what budget we have, let's dig into the technical aspects.

Types of cutlery

The characteristics of a good cutlery depend on two key factors: the raw material and the finish. The materials most used in the production of cutlery are stainless steel, silver, nickel silver and plastic.

1) Stainless steel cutlery

Within stainless steel cutlery it is important to make some distinctions that have an impact on its quality and that are worth checking in the product descriptions:

- 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel: Both are considered the highest quality material for their manufacture. This material is made up of 18% chrome and either 8% or 10% nickel, hence its name. Both 18/8 and 18/10 are part of what is known as the "300 series" of stainless steel.

This type of cutlery is widely used in the hospitality sector because of its high quality and durability. Due to its characteristics, we can define 18/8 and 18/10 stainless steel cutlery as:

  • High resistance to rust
  • Material does not affect the taste
  • They are not magnetic (Synonym of high quality)
  • Dishwasher safe and very easy to clean
  • Cutlery for Hotels and Restaurant standards

- 18/0 stainless steel: Within stainless steel cutlery there is also a lower category where there is no presence of nickel in its production. As its name suggests, this type of cutlery is made up of 18% chrome and 0% nickel. It is worth focusing on this information, since the greater the presence of nickel in the cutlery, the more resistant it will be to corrosion over time. Hence, this type of cutlery is cheaper. When there is no nickel, the cutlery belongs to the "400 series” of stainless steel. Although this type of cutlery has less resistance to corrosion, this material withstands daily use very well, guaranteeing a relatively long useful life for domestic use. Due to its characteristics, we can define 18/0 stainless steel cutlery as:

  • Good rust resistance
  • Material does not affect the taste
  • They are magnetic (Synonym of lower quality)
  • Dishwasher safe and very easy to clean
  • Cheaper purchase price for its durability

- Chrome steel 13/0: This is the most widely used material for the manufacture of knives. In general, regardless of the type of cutlery set production material, knives are usually made of 13% chrome and 0% nickel. Why? Because the low percentage of chromium in the composition hardens the knife blades and as a result, the blades stay sharp longer. Due to its characteristics, we can define 13/10 chrome steel knives as:

  • Long blade life
  • rust resistant
  • dishwasher safe
  • durable and robust

2) Silver cutlery

Silver has been considered in ancient times as a social symbol. Today it is part of something more common and easier to reach for everyone. However, it is a more expensive cutlery and with which we must be careful to buy really good quality and not be deceived. How is it possible to identify silver cutlery?

  • 999 silver (which indicates that the piece is made with 99% silver) is the best quality that we can find on the market. With a bright and neat color, almost similar to white, these pieces are usually marked with a number that indicates their purity. We can also find 950 or 925. The denomination 800/100 is also considered genuine silver, however below this number any other denomination is no longer considered quality silver (So be careful when you find “silver cutlery” cheap on the internet!)

  • Another key is to feel the weight of the piece. Silver is a heavy metal when compared to others of lower quality such as nickel silver or copper, which are usually quite light.
  • The initials S.S are another important sign. The pieces made of silver have it, while those that simply have a silver bath, which may have been made of cheaper materials such as alpaca, have the acronym S.P.
  • When despite all these signs you still have doubts, it is best to use a magnet. Quality silver will never stick to the magnet, while other cheap metals will (like 18/0 stainless steel).

3) Nickel Silver cutlery

Nickel Silver is a combination of three metals: copper, zinc and nickel, widely used for the manufacture of jewelry, decorative details and cutlery. It is much cheaper than silver, since although it is a resistant material, it requires some maintenance so that it looks beautiful and does not acquire a yellow tone or even rust stains appear on it.  Unlike silver, it is a much lighter type of cutlery and although it has a similar colour, if you look at it in detail, it is closer to the natural steel.

However, this does not mean that nickel silver cutlery is of poor quality. The information that really needs to be paid attention to is the presence of nickel, since the quality of alpaca is considered higher the more nickel it contains in its composition. Let's not forget that the more nickel, the less risk of corrosion. The higher quality ones usually have around 22% nickel.

Copper

Zinc

Nickel

Quality

52%

26%

22%

First quality

59%

30%

11%

Second quality

63%

31%

6%

Third quality

 

How to buy cutlery online?

Through the Internet it is difficult to recognize which cutlery is worth its price, since today we only have photos and texts to make a purchase. However, at What a Host we recommend that you pay attention to the following:

  1. Technical product information: What are the materials with which the cutlery is made? As we analysed in this post, there are different qualities even within the same group. Read carefully and ask all the questions you might have before placing your order.

  2. The pictures: Many times the images are confusing and we realise that the cutlery looks different in each photo. Some sellers use photos taken from the internet that are not a reflection of what they really sell. Just pay attention and if you are not sure, ask for more real pictures. If they cannot provide them, then you know.
  1. Weights and shape: It is important that the seller clarify the weight and the thickness of the piece to have an idea of ​​what quality it is. Cutlery that is very light tends to deform or even break over time. In the case of stainless steel cutlery, even the ones defined as 18/8, can have different weights and finishes that will impact on the durability of the product. It's worth asking (in some photos you can see the difference, but in many others it's confusing).

    Cutlery Set Flatware What a Host Tablescapes
  1. Washing and color conservation: Today we are looking for practicality so it is important to consider that the cutlery can be washed in the dishwasher. However, when it comes to colored cutlery (for example gold or black) we have to know that they will always have a shorter useful life than cutlery in the original metal. If a seller tells you the colour will last forever, this is a lie. In these cases, for better conservation, we recommend washing them by hand. Unless you are buying cutlery for special occasions, consider that with daily use they will have a shorter useful life.

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