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How to Choose Flatware?


Picking flatware is a surprisingly weighty decision, especially since the average American buys only three sets in a lifetime.


With thousands of patterns to choose from, purchasing a set of flatware is a daunting task if you don’t know what to look for. That’s why we spent over a hundred hours researching what makes great flatware, including taking a tour of Sherrill Manufacturing, interviewing a professor of material science and engineering, and handling hundreds of different utensil designs, to help you make a more informed decision in your quest for the perfect cutlery. It includes a basic overview of construction techniques, design, and materials, so you’ll have a better understanding of what’s worth paying for.


We suggest starting your search by looking at flatware in person, if you can. Many stores have sample sets available to handle, which will tell you a lot about the weight of individual utensils and how comfortable they are to hold. If you need some recommendations to get the ball rolling, see our guide to the best flatware.

Dinner Set

 Dinner Set

Set your price range and quantity

Determining how many settings you need and how much you want to spend is the first step to buying flatware. Utensils are sold piece by piece (open stock), in preassembled box sets, or as individual place settings. Here’s how much you should expect to pay for each.


Place settings

A single five-piece flatware setting (meaning a salad fork, a dinner fork, a knife, a soup spoon, and a teaspoon) can cost anywhere from a few dollars for stainless steel to well over a thousand dollars for sterling silver. But we think the sweet spot for a decent, good-quality stainless steel place setting is between $20 and $45, which is the price range where you’ll begin to see better-quality materials and improved craftsmanship. Keep in mind that most retailers reduce the price of the individual place setting when you buy four, eight, or 12 settings. Also, flatware settings don’t always come with additional serving pieces, but if they do, the pieces are always sold separately.



Box sets

Box sets of flatware are usually sold three ways: as 20-piece sets (with service for four), 45-piece sets (with service for eight, plus serving pieces), or 65-piece sets (with service for 12, plus serving pieces). Box sets usually cost anywhere from $20 to $180, depending on the type of steel, the degree of craftsmanship, and the number of pieces in the set.


Know your materials

Having a basic understanding of what to look for before you start shopping will make it easier to find a set of flatware you’ll love. For starters, to ensure you know what you’re buying, it’s helpful to be familiar with the materials used in flatware. Utensils can be made from a variety of alloys (combinations of metals) and can have additional coatings or other components, such as wood or resin handles. However, not all materials are equally durable. We recommend getting stainless steel flatware for everyday use because it’s affordable, easy to care for, and long-lasting. Sterling silver flatware is an elegant choice for formal occasions, but it’s very expensive and requires more maintenance. Here’s how the two materials compare.

New Bone China Rim Shape Gold Decal Design 20pcs Dinner Set

New Bone China Rim Shape Gold Decal Design 20pcs Dinner Set


Stainless steel flatware

Stainless steel is an alloy (meaning it consists of multiple metals) and is available in various grades, or compositional ranges. The most common grades of stainless steel used in flatware are 18/10, 18/8, and 18/0. Those numbers indicate the percentage of chromium and nickel in each type of stainless steel. Both metals add to the strength of the steel, but nickel improves the corrosion resistance and luster of the alloy. We recommend getting only 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel flatware, which has a higher nickel content. Avoid purchasing flatware made of 18/0 stainless steel, since it doesn’t contain nickel and therefore isn’t as resistant to corrosion—meaning it will show surface scratching more. If a manufacturer doesn’t indicate the type of steel used in a particular set of flatware, that’s usually a red flag.


Occasionally you may see some European-made flatware labeled “inox,” short for the French word inoxydable (meaning “inoxidizable”), which is an umbrella term for stainless steel. According to Scott Misture, PhD, a professor at the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University, although the chromium content of inox steel can be as much as 18 percent, it can also go as low as 10.5 percent or 12 percent, depending on the manufacturer. We recommend buying inox utensils only if they also denote the steel grade as being 18/10.

Let us help you find the best dinner sets for you. When you contact us, please provide your detailed requirements. That will help us give you a valid quotation. 

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