table-setting-500-x-400Tableware and glassware (dinnerware) are essentials for any restaurant, bar and home. After all, the plates, bowls, and cups used to serve a meal make a statement about the owner and set a tone for the meal. Bright, colorful plates indicate a fun and casual meal, while fine white china is the hallmark of a fancy meal. When buying dinnerware, consumers need to take into account seven factors that help determine the best purchase for their needs. First, shoppers need to consider their budget. Secondly, the number of people to be served food should be taken into account. They should also decide what level of formality they desire, as well as the materials used to make a dinnerware set. Next, they should consider the number of pieces in a set, as well as the extra plates and accessories they can purchase to accompany the dinnerware. The appearance of the dinnerware, including color, shape, and pattern, is also important. Finally, shoppers should gauge how easily they can replace an item if necessary.

Consideration 1: Budget

Before making any purchase, buyers should know exactly how much they can afford to spend. Dinnerware ranges in price, from readily affordable on nearly any budget to extremely expensive. The budget should take into account based on the place settings and any accessories. If necessary, shoppers can purchase the essentials and allocate more money for additional pieces later. However, remember that high quality dinnerware is ultimately a lasting investment.

Consideration 2: Number of People

Dinnerware may be sold as open stock (which is ideal for businesses), meaning that the shopper is free to purchase however many of each item he or she wants. Open stock is a good choice when the shopper wants to mix and match pieces, such as plates and bowls in complementary colors. Dinnerware can also be sold per place setting, meaning that the seller offers the plates, bowls, and cups to serve one person.

Consideration 3: Level of Formality and Purpose

The right dinnerware is also dependent on how it is used. Consumers should choose dinnerware that matches the environment they want to create. Additionally, if dinnerware is handled by children, shoppers may want to invest in something lightweight and durable.

Consideration 4: Material

As mentioned, dinnerware can be made from a variety of materials. These include porcelain, bone china, earthenware, stoneware, ironstone, as well as glass or melamine. The chart below breaks down the differences in materials.



Casual or Formal

Earthenware Made from unrefined clay and fired at low temperatures; porous and often glazed; fragile despite hefty appearance Casual
Stoneware Made from refined clay fired at higher temperatures than earthenware; nonporous, hard, and heavy Casual
Ironstone A durable version of stoneware with a porcelain-like appearance but more casual finish Casual
Glass Can be perfectly clear or colored and transparent, as well as opaque Casual
Melamine A durable plastic resin that is shatterproof Casual
Porcelain A type of stoneware fired at the highest temperatures; durable and non-porous with a glass-like appearance Formal
Bone China Porcelain made with bone ash; translucent and milky white Formal

Consideration 5: Number of Pieces

Because dinnerware is often sold in sets or by place setting, consumers should also consider how many pieces are included in the place setting and what types. Even if a dinnerware set does not include everything a consumer wants, he or she can purchase additional items separately. These include individual items for a place setting, such as a charger (a large decorated plate set beneath the dinner plate), a rimmed bowl (for serving soups, stews, and pastas), and an accent plate (which is decorated more heavily than other plates in the set).

Consideration 6: Shape, Color, and Pattern

No shopper should feel limited in his or her choices for dinnerware. There is much more available than simple white plates and round cereal bowls, so it is easy to find something that suits individual tastes and preferences. Look for rustic patterns for a country cottage feel, or square and other unconventional plate shapes with bold colors for a contemporary look. However, be sure the look of the dinnerware coordinates with the rest of the room and table setting. A space that is already filled with bright colors can benefit from neutral-colored plates such as an ivory, but use dinnerware to add a pop of color to an otherwise calm, neutral design.

Shoppers should also coordinate the color scheme with a tablecloth and napkins, as well as the stemware and flatware. It is easy to find both of the latter items in simple and contemporary designs. When buying smaller sets or open stock pieces, shoppers can easily mix and match hues to create a complementary but eclectic look.

Consideration 7: Replaceability

When buying a dinnerware set, consider how easily a particular item can be replaced. An item sold on clearance may be more difficult to find replacements for because it is being discontinued. Porcelain and bone china sets are also traditionally more difficult to replace. However, dinnerware that was originally a cohesive set with a single color or pattern can be added to with complementary colors and a similar design.

(Source:  Food and Beverage Singapore –