Do you confuse these two terms? Maybe you have heard about them before, but in the end, the utensils look similar to you.
If you are planning to buy a new set of utensils for your kitchen, then this article may interest you. We will define flatware and silverware, and give you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of both types of cutlery.
Let’s start by defining flatware and silverware:
What Is Flatware?
Flatware is a word to define “flat tableware”. It refers to all the utensils that we use to eat and are used to set up a dinner table. That means the term includes knives, forks and spoons, and all the different types of these utensils (fish knife, fish fork, dessert fork, and dessertspoon, fruit knife and fruit fork, soupspoon, and teaspoon, and many more).
Flatware can be made of different materials, being the most commonly stainless steel, because it is sturdy and long-lasting. Other options on the market are wood, plastic, silver-plated flatware (probably stainless steel covered by a thin layer of silver), solid silver flatware, gilded flatware (gold covered).
The name flatware is used to categorize the type of cutlery (forks, knives, and spoons).
When people started using the word flatware, knives were not included since they were considered cutlery. Nowadays, the word flatware is mostly used in the USA while the term cutlery is generally being used outside the USA.
What Is Silverware?
When people talk about silverware, they are referring to every cutlery that surrounds the plate on the table and is made of silver. It means that flatware can be silverware if it is made of this material, but not all silverware can be flatware.
Silver is known to have properties that fight off bacteria and it is a generally soft metal, which is why it is often used in utensils.
We can say then that the word silverware categorizes the type of material, in this case, silver. There are different types of silverware that we will mention below. Although it is called silverware, it is made up of just 92 percent silver mixed with other metals to make the silverware more durable.
In the end, the difference between flatware and silverware just comes down to the usage and the material being used.
Stainless Steel Vs Sterling Silver
Knowing the characteristics of each material will help you when choosing the ideal for your home.
Let’s start by saying that both, sterling silver and stainless steel, are alloy metals. That means they are a combination of many other metals.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium, and nickel. There can be other metals included, however, these are the main materials. You can find different types of stainless steel qualities, depending on the content of chromium and nickel. Chromium is a metal that provides durability and makes the utensil rust-resistant. Nickel is a silvery-white metal, so it provides luster.
On the other hand, sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. It is because silver is a soft material, and needs to be combined with other metals to provide its strength.
The material that provides more durability is stainless steel, due to its combination of different metals. It is ideal to be used daily since is dishwasher safe and rust-resistant. It is also corrosion and scratch-resistant. That is why many people prefer to use this daily since you do not need to worry about its appearance.
However, in terms of style and appearance, we can be sure to say that silverware made of sterling silver is the best option. First, its whitish-gray color and its ability to reflect light intensely, make this material transform any decorated space into an elegant place.
Besides, it is a relatively rare metal so; it has more value than stainless steel. The only downside is that silver is a "soft" metal, which means that scratches are very common, especially if it is not stored properly.
Sterling Silver: Advantages
- It is a precious metal and has more value.
- More versatility
- Allows for complex designs, which adds much more value to the utensils.
- It has natural antibacterial properties.
Sterling Silver: Disadvantages
- It has to be clean and stored carefully since scratches easily.
- Prone to corrosion
- It is more costly than stainless steel.
Stainless Steel: Advantages
- It is resistant to corrosion.
- Stainless steel is a hard material, so it does not scratch easily.
- It has higher durability.
- It is versatile and cheaper compared to sterling silver
- Can be cleaned easily, which means it can be used every day
Stainless Steel: Disadvantages
- It is not easy to repair
- In rare cases, triggers allergic reactions
Silver-Plated And Sterling Silver Cutlery: Differences
As we mentioned before, silver is a soft material. For that reason, it is not common to find cutlery made of 100% silver. Manufacturers add a small number of other metals to strengthen the silver. That is how sterling silver is created.
The utensils usually have a mark that lets you know the silver content. Real sterling silver cutlery can be stamped with 925 (925 of 1000 parts are pure silver). But also 835, 820, and 625 hallmarks indicate real silver cutlery.
However, silver-plated cutlery is different. The silver-plated cutlery has an extremely thin layer of silver covering a base metal (usually copper). With usage, the layer of silver may wear off.
In silver-plated utensils, you can find 90 or 100 marks. These hallmarks indicate the thickness of the silver that was applied to the cutlery with the help of electroplating processes.
We hope we have clarified your doubts regarding the difference between flatware and silverware. Now you can look at all the sets we have to offer in our flatware and silverware section. We have a wide range of designs and prices. Go there and choose the best set for your kitchen!