Along with Dinnerware and Glassware, Flatware is one the three main items couples put on their wedding registries. Flatware is forks, knives and spoon that you eat with and comes in two main categories. The first category is formal flatware and is used with your formal dinnerware and formal glassware only on special occasions. Formal flatware is usually made of sterling silver plate or stainless steel. It often has a decorative accent made of real gold. Sterling silver flatware is actually an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal usually copper (this is added for strength). Silver plate flatware is when a thin layer of silver has been applied to the exterior layer of another base metal like nickel, copper, or brass. It has look very similar to sterling silver but costs a fraction of the price. Sterling silver and silver-plate flatware actually last longer and look better if used frequently. The oils from constant use help keep a fog from developing. Eventually the surface will have small scratches that will blend together to form a rich finish known as a patina. Sterling silver flatware or silver plate flatware is not dishwasher safe, and will require hand washing. In fact you should also dry them with a towel, water left on the surface will form stains or even tiny pits marring the finish.
Casual flatware is the second category and is usually made of stainless steel. Stainless steel comes in two different grades 18/10 and 18/8. The number 18 refers to the percentage of chromium in the alloy. The number 10 or 8 refers to the percentage of nickel. The grade of 18/10 is a higher quality and durability and is the same grade of steel used in hospital tools and equipment. Many people believe stainless steel doesn’t rust, this is untrue. Stainless steel doesn’t rust less it simply “stains less”. However by caring for your stainless steel you can prolong its lifespan and prevent it from ever rusting. The most important thing to consider are the manufacturers recommendations, if they say the flatware is not dishwasher safe putting it in the dishwasher will shorten it’s lifespan considerably. Even with dishwasher safe flatware there are some general tips you should follow. Never leave flatware sitting in water, it promotes pitting and eventually rusting. Rinse the flatware if it comes into contact with highly acidic foods or liquids like lemon or other citrus juices or foods like tomatoes.
When choosing flatware here are some guidelines you should keep in mind. Hold the fork knife and spoon in your hand. Make sure they aren’t too heavy or too light for you. Also make sure the flatware is durable the tines on the fork shouldn’t bend easily and the blade on the knife should flex slightly not bend or bow. Secondly you choose flatware that will match your dinnerware and glassware, think complimentary styles not contrasting styles.
Some popular flatware brands you may come across when you are registering for flatware are Dansk, Lenox, Mikasa, Oneida, Reed & Barton, Towle, Waterford, Wedgwood, and Yamazaki.