Poppy is the author of "A Bard's Lament" and the Black Diamond series. She lives in Enoshima with her husband and young son.
Cutlery makes for a great gift, and is also an essential part of dining. While some may not pay much attention, others love to be able to pick and choose the style, shape and quality of cutlery, ensure that there are enough matching sets for everyone in the household, and perhaps even have a "special" set especially set aside for guests or special occasions.
There is a surprisingly huge amount of different brands and styles of knives, forks and spoons, some of which take pride in simplicity or tradition, and others that are of high enough quality that they have almost a lifetime quality guarantee. This article aims to explain the differences between these brands, and address what might be considered "better" cutlery than others.
18/0 and 18/10
Firstly, cutlery is not all the same level of quality, which is why some cutlery can come in a fancy black box called a canteen, and others don't. If you're looking for high-class, slightly heavier cutlery with a premier feel, you'll want an 18/10 set. Cutlery at this standard will nearly always have "18/10" somewhere on the box, and the price will be noticeably different.
18/10 cutlery means that it is 10% nickel, which means that it's a lot more stain resistant as well as visibly "shinier". 18/10 cutlery also goes through more polishing processes. 18/0 cutlery is 0% nickel, so it doesn't have that quality. 18/0 cutlery is usually duller, and less expensive. 18/10 cutlery includes brands like Premier and Masters, and 18/0 includes Monogram.
Once you know whether the cutlery you're looking at is 18/0 or 18/10, the brand or shape you go for really depends on personal taste. Some like traditional or simple patterns, others enjoy a quirky or unusual shape so that their dining table stands out.
18/0 simple or traditional looking cutlery include Harley, Sure, Carlton and Bead, to name a few. 18/10 include an "upgraded" version of the basics - Harley Royale and Bead Royale, for example, with the same shape and patterns as their 18/0 counterparts but with higher quality.
"Quirkier" shapes and brands include Kings (18/0), Juniper (18/10) and Alessi Bettina.
For people who really care about having high-quality, weighty and reliable dinnerware will be interested in the 18/10 Premier range, some of which include Oxford, Newton, Cambridge, and Aurora. A 44 piece canteen (black box) set of Newton will cost around £180-£220 - with a fifty-year quality guarantee.
It's interesting how some teaspoons are sold for 20p when a single piece from the Newton range (even a teaspoon) can be around £3-£5.
Types of Spoons, Forks and Knives
We all know about teaspoons and table forks, but did you know how many different kinds of cutlery there really are?
- Latte spoon
- Coffee spoon
- Serving spoon
- Vegetable spoon
- Soup spoon
- Salad spoon
- Dessert spoon
- Pastry fork
- Cake fork
- Table fork
- Dessert fork
- Meat fork
- Table knife
- Dessert knife
- Cheese knife
- Butter knife
How many of them you really "need" is up to you. For collectors, you can buy Premier cutlery (such as Newton) in separate pieces, including bigger "buffet" sized utensils.
Generally speaking, you can get a 16 piece (for four people), 24 piece (for six people) and 32 piece (for 8 people) of most kinds of 18/0 cutlery, that include table forks, table knives, dessert spoons and teaspoons. Some sets offer extra teaspoons. A 16 piece set, which is enough for a family of four, can be as little as £13, up to £20 ($22 to $35 US dollars).
Canteens can be at 44 piece and even 62 piece (for eight people), which is eight of each of these:
- 8 table forks
- 8 table knives
- 8 dessert spoons
- 8 dessert forks
- 8 dessert knives
- 8 teaspoons
- 8 soup spoons
- 6 serving spoons
This set in Newton, along with a canteen, can be between £199 and £249 ($340 to $425 US dollars).
All in all, what cutlery set you decide to buy, just like other kitchen utensils such as chef's knives, is entirely up to you. Some young couples moving into a house are happy to get a cheap set; sometimes people want to treat their friends or family to a high quality set for special occasions such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Either way, having pretty and matching cutlery is a bonus to a dinner table and a necessity for all households. It's also useful to know what you're getting for your money, and to be able to choose a brand that you enjoy.
© 2014 Poppy
Retta on December 14, 2014:
The abitily to think like that shows you're an expert
Poppy (author) from Enoshima, Japan on July 24, 2014:
Thank you very much for your comment, oldiesmusic. I used to work in a shop that sells cutlery and knives so it was nice to be able to apply the knowledge to HP.
oldiesmusic from United States on July 23, 2014:
Wow, I thought all spoons and forks are the same but I found out that they are designed for a specific purpose. I learned a lot here on this hub. Cutlery indeed is one of the finest gift items. Thanks for sharing.