- Earthenware, the oldest form of dinnerware, is fired at low temperatures. It includes unglazed pieces, such as terra cotta, but servingware is often glazed to keep out moisture. It isn't as translucent as porcelain, and can have a tendency to crack when faced with extreme temperature changes. However, it also tends to be the least expensive.
- Stoneware was the predominant type of dinnerware used in the 1800s. Known for its durability, stoneware's stronger than earthenware, but still more opaque than its haute sister, porcelain. Most pieces are microwave- and dishwasher-safe, but double-check to make sure, and also be careful with sudden temperature fluctuations.
- Although porcelain (also called fine china) is coveted for its delicate demeanor and thin, nearly translucent appearance, don't be fooled: the stuff is actually quite durable, and, generally speaking, will fit right into your microwave or dishwasher.
- Bone china was first developed in England; it's fine china with bone ash used as an added ingredient to create an even whiter, transparent effect. This is the crème de la crème of china.
What type of dinnerware do you use at home?