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Differences between Porcelain, Stoneware, & Bone China

Dinnerware Tip

Management

Exhibition News

Dinnerware is made of several substrates, but most often seen is porcelain, stoneware (ceramic), and bone china. With distinct differences between them, they are important to know before purchasing for your home or business.

First, vitrification must be explained. Ceramic ware is considered "vitrified" if it will absorb less than 0.2 percent of its own weight. This means the surface is smooth and glass-like, creating a hard, extra durable surface. The pieces are microwavable and dishwasher safe, resistant to breakage and chipping.

Porcelain is made of kaolin clay. Kaolin is a white clay that retains its white color when fired. It is fired at temperatures in excess of 1,300 degrees Celsius and is more fully vitrified than stoneware. It is usually covered with a clear glaze, which allows the white color to show. The fired color tends to be more of a "cool" white. Porcelain becomes vitrified during the second firing of a two fire process, and the finish tends to be harder. Therefore, porcelain tends to be finer quality than stoneware.

Stoneware differs from Porcelain not only in color, but the way it is fired. Where Porcelain becomes vitrified during the second firing (second firing is hotter than first firing), Stoneware is vitrified during a single firing, which the temperature is a little less than used for Porcelain. The resulting finish is warmer in color than Porcelain. An easy way to tell Porcelain from Stoneware is to turn a piece upside down; where the bottom rim is, Porcelain will be white, showing the color of the clay, whereas Stoneware will be a natural color with a colored glaze on top.

Bone China is made using a translucent white ceramic clay containing at least 25 percent bone ash. Bone
China tends to be slightly translucent in nature and is often used in thin walled pieces, exhibiting a delicate, refined look.

Porcelain or stoneware pieces are a wise choice for home or business use for durability and versatility. Bone China pieces may be left for special occasions if needed. It is best to consider your usage and budget before purchasing items for your home or business, and make an educated choice for your dinnerware.