Fine China: When and Where it Originated, Along With Our Favorite Sets

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fine china
The fine dining exhibit on the third floor of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Ark., April 3, 2016. The setting includes White House china used during the Clinton Administration. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Walston)

There’s a huge difference between high-quality dinnerware and cheap collections.

We’ve all heard of Fine China, but what is it and why are so many of us obsessed with it? Let’s take a look at the history of Fine China and some amazing sets you can buy online.

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A Bit About Fine China

Before diving right into our favorite Fine China dinnerware sets, let's explore what this hot commodity is. We'll discuss when and where Fine China originated, as well as how to care for yours.

What is Fine China? 

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Fine China is the word to describe a ceramic piece, dinnerware or decorative item. Bone china and porcelain china come from this material, and are usually associated with jugs, dinnerware and decorative items. Finishing touches and decorative glazes make the difference between Fine China and ordinary china.  Fine China is made from a hard, white, translucent ceramic. This is made by firing a pure clay and then glazing it.

When and Where Did Fine China Originate? 

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Fine China is made from kaolin, which is a fine white clay made from decomposing granite. This birthed in China using the procedures for mixing, molding and firing materials together. The first Fine China came in T’ang Dynasty, but it wasn’t until the Yaun Dynasty that it came close to resemble how we perceive it in this day.

During the 18th century, Europe discovered a change in how they mastered the art of making china. Factories opened and became considered a symbol of prestige. During the 1730’s, the world saw table ornaments and accessories developing more and more.

Around this time, England emerged into the Fine China market. Artisans owned and operated England’s factories without any support of royal financing. This resulted in it being marketed to the middle-class. It then reached to further regions in Europe, where the most well-known Fine China was blue and white printed patterns.

How Does Fine China Differ from Bone China and Porcelain? 

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There are many differences between Fine China and Bone China, though not everyone can recognize them. First of all, Bone China is more expensive due to its material – which is cow bone ash. To make Bone China, you mix cow bone ash into the ceramic material to give it a unique colour tone. Herford – a form of Bone China – has a creamy soft white colour. If you hold up a cup of Fine China and Bone China under a light, you’ll easily see the difference as the latter is more translucent in comparison. Many people believe that Bone China is stronger and more reliable, however, that’s not the case. If you’re contemplating on deciding between the two, decide based on your budget and colour preference.

Porcelain differs from Fine China in appearance, composition and production. Porcelain is white, hard, permanent and non-porous. Made from a combination of feldspar, quartz and kaolin, it’s less expensive and heavier than Bone China. However, it is more prone to chipping as it’s made from a brittle composition. Available in varying shades of whiteness from ivory to blue-grey to bright white, there are more options in its appearance. It also comes in a soft paste which is creamier in colour and porous. Alternatively, you can purchase it in a hard paste which is non-porous and a purer white colour.

How Do You Care for Fine China?

After eating your meal, wash the dishes shortly after and don’t allow to sit dirty – especially overnight. Place a thick towel on the bottom of the sink and fill with warm water on top. Add a mild dishwashing detergent and push the tap to the side to prevent chipping the Fine China.

Before washing your items, remove all jewelry to prevent any damage. Stick to washing one item at a time and use a microfiber cloth or soft sponge to reduce any damage. For those stubborn spots, drizzle some liquid dish detergent onto a sponge and gently scrub away the marks. If it still doesn’t budge, try adding a little baking soda on the sponge and clean in a circular motion.

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Air dry your kitchenware and rub down with a soft, clean towel. Always ensure that the towels and dry and clean before using them. Once dry, place paper towels or cloth napkins between each dish to prevent scratching or damage. Never stack the plates on top of each other or hang the teacups. If you only use Fine China on special occasions, annually wash and clean the kitchenware to preserve the glaze and colour.

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter stains in your kitchenware. Mix 50/50 table salt with household vinegar and soak the dishes in the mixture before washing. Stir a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the stain. Gently rub with a soft sponge and wash.


Gorgeous Fine China Sets We Love

We’ve searched the Internet for the best Fine China sets which will add class and sophistication to your meal times.

1. Wedgwood Oberon 5-Piece Setting

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This Oberon Collection offers a timeless elegant and modern style. It’s decorated with an enchanting border of pale sage green with red accents, featuring vine motifs and bursts of flora. Featured in the March 2009 Spring Fashion Issue of Vogue as the dinnerware choice of First Lady Michelle Obama, it’s bursting with character. Wedgwood is well-known for its exquisitely designed and highly-decorated patterns. Considered one of the strongest types of Fine China, it offers a beautiful translucent white appearance.

This Fine China set comes with thin bands of ivory and black. Complementary accent pieces swirl with vines and burst of flora. Also, it’s finished with a 22-karat gold for an ultimate luxury feel. This five-piece setting includes: one dinner plate, one dessert plate, one bread and butter plate, teacup and saucer. Dishwasher, freezer and oven safe, it’s convenient for the modern family. It’s made in Indonesia and introduced in 1992.

2. Mikasa Parchment Fine China 42-Piece Dinnerware Set

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This parchment dinnerware collection features a gray border embellished with a beautifully detailed scroll design. Crafted of porcelain, this dinnerware set can add style to any dining room. Dishwasher safe, this beautiful collection is ideal for special occasions.

Parchment is one of Mikasa’a most popular formal and bridal patterns and now available in a set for a reasonable price. This white Fine China has a soft pearl-gray border with a platinum band and design. When purchased as a complete set, it includes eight dinner plates, salad plates, soup plates, footed teacups and saucers. Also, it contains a vegetable bowl and 12” round batter plate.

In this 42-piece set, it comprises of platinum-trimmed china which is one of the most luxurious Fine China brands. Featuring an elegant silver and satin tapestry design branded by platinum, this would make a wonderful gift for a loved one.

3. Lenox Butterfly Meadow 18-Piece Dinnerware Set

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This popular casual dinnerware collection is a contemporary classic which is inspired by the artistry of Louise Le Luyer. With delightful patterns and variations to choose from, each offers an exquisite array of blooms, butterflies and wonders of nature. With a soft colour palette, it’s the perfect choice for a special occasion. Designed for chip-resistant durability, this will take a cherished place in your home for many years and offer the opportunity to expand your collection with an incredible range of dining, décor and gift choices available.

This versatile, stylish and fun collection is created by Lenox. Known around the world for offering a unique combination of design, artistry and superior quality for over 100 years, you’ll buy this with peace of mind. Each giftset includes six different dinner plates, six salad plates and six different mugs which all mix and match.

4. Lenox Autumn Gold-Banded Five-Piece Fine China Set

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Lenox offers an unrivaled combination of exquisite design, superb hand-craftsmanship and lasting quality. This brand offers an incredible array of patterns crafted of the finest China, all of which offer superior chip-resistance and dishwasher-safe convenience.

With an amazing range available, this gives the opportunity to expand your collection at any time to express your own style. The perfect choice for today’s modern couple, this Fine China set always holds a special place in the home and provides a lifetime of enjoyment and memories.

If you love sophistication and elegant simplicity of dinnerware, this offers a wide range of stylish options. This popular collection makes a memorable presentation on its own or when mixed with other patterns to make a unique statement.


Do You Own Any Fine China?

We hope you enjoyed reading about a brief history of Fine China and why it’s so fascinating. There are several patterns available to stock your China cabinet with.

If you know any interesting facts about this material, share your knowledge and thoughts in the comments to keep this conversation going.

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