Flatware on a Budget
By Molly Mulvaney, Bering's Hardware
Choosing a flatware pattern that compliments you and your home can be a daunting task. The following information is intended to make the selection process a little bit easier and also budget friendly.
To begin, I'd like to go over a common misconception about flatware. Not all flatware is sterling silver! I know, I know. This one may seem obvious, but many people believe (or at least tell their friends) that their flatware is silver. Thirty-years-ago this might have proved true, but with the average cost of a sterling silver five-piece place setting hovering around $1,000, silver is not as commonplace as it once was. If you currently own or are in line to inherit sterling silver flatware then you're in luck! If not, you'll most likely have to keep dreaming at these prices.
So, now that we're aware of sterling flatware's high price, you may be wondering whether you will ever get an opportunity to own your favorite pattern. One way to adorn your table with sterling is to purchase only the serving pieces of the pattern of your choice. While the sterling serving pieces are still very expensive, overall they are a more affordable way to collect sterling pieces without having to purchase multiple place settings. Serving pieces like a meat fork, cake knife, cake server, serving spoon, slotted serving spoon, etc. are beautiful and also practical pieces to own even if they are the only sterling pieces you will own. Also, because of their larger nature, owning a few serving pieces doesn't look as out of place as a owning, for example, two and a half five piece place settings. Most sterling silver serving pieces will run from $150-$400+ dollars.
Another more affordable option is to go the stainless steel or silver-plated route. When browsing through the stainless patterns they may all start to look alike. Don't be fooled! If you flip one of the pieces over, you will see small numbers divided by a slash. While there is some disagreement, my advice is to go with the 18/10 stainless patterns. The "18" refers to the amount of chromium present in the piece.
Le Perle by Jean Couzon Five Piece Setting, $75
Chromium contributes to its strength and hardness. The "10" represents the amount of nickel content. Nickel adds to the piece's shine and resistance to stains. You may come across patterns that are 18/8 and even 18/0. Although the 18/10 pattern may cost a few dollars more, over the next decade or so its quality will pay off in the long run. As opposed to sterling silver flatware, most stainless manufactures and retail stores price stainless flatware by the five piece place setting, not by individual pieces. One of my favorite patterns is Valcourt by Gorham. At $50 for a five piece place setting, it has the traditional, romantic look of some sterling patterns and the quality of stainless patterns double its price.
Silver-plated flatware is another style to consider as well. A five piece place setting will cost anywhere from $100-$200 dollars, but the shine that the silver plating adds is worth every penny! Just remember that silver-plated flatware will need to be polished periodically in order to maintain its luster.
After you've selected a flatware pattern that you love, try to remember to not overextend yourself when purchasing. If you're goal is to have eight, five piece place settings then maybe start with four, then add one each month. The best purchase that you'll make is one that's pleasing to the eye as well as your wallet.
About the Author
Molly Mulvaney is a sales associate at Bering's Hardware in Houston, TX. Bering's is well known for a broad range of carefully selected home goods such as kitchen products to grilling products and accessories, as well as fine crystal stemware. They also carry silver and stainless steel flatware like the pieces shown in this article. Molly enjoys spending time with her family and friends, attending graduate school, doing crossfit, being outside, watching movies, and eating sweets.