Family China; Dining on Old-Time Values with Quality plates.(LIFE - HOME)
Byline: Jen Waters, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Formality is back in fashion, says Irv Losman, owner of Tiara Galleries and Gifts in Rockville. Mr. Losman, who sells Herend china, a sophisticated porcelain made in Hungary, says he has seen a growing interest in returning to simple values, such as eating dinner with family. As an outgrowth of this sentiment, he says people have been investing in sets of china as a way to stay close to home, especially during the recent tumultuous times.
"Something happens when you dress up a table and eat slowly," Mr. Losman says. "You keep your elbows down, and you're on your best behavior. You are focused and sitting up straight, recognizing the value of good conversation."
Although bone china and porcelain are considered the traditional forms of china, today "china" is generically used to refer to bone china, porcelain, earthenware and stoneware. Depending on individual tastes, consumers choose what best fits their needs. Each variety is made through slightly different methods and varies in value depending on its manufacturer, age and condition.
Joseph Diciacco, national marketing director of Carico International in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says the most important information any first-time buyer of bone china or porcelain should know is that it is more than a monetary investment. It usually will be a family heirloom.
"It has a sentimental value," he says. "Each piece is almost like a work of art."
When customers buy bone china or porcelain, Mr. Diciacco says, they should consider choosing a simple pattern that will remain in vogue for many years. He says buying a simpler pattern is a safer route than spending money on the latest trend.
Some buyers may want to collect their set piece by piece, but Mr. Diciacco suggests buying all the components at once, or at least the basic items - companies may discontinue a line when it is least expected.
Closely inspecting prospective merchandise before buying it is also important, Mr. Diciacco says. If the pattern includes platinum or gold edges, make sure the metal rolls over the edges for a more luxurious look. Make sure the bottom rims of the coffee cups are smooth so that they will not scratch the saucer's design, and check for a consistency in the clay when studying the plates.
"Look for china free of blemishes, pimples, dimples and pockets of air," he says. "It's a higher perceived value."
Coordinating the china pattern with crystal is also a good idea, Mr. Diciacco says. A green or blue design can be complemented by the appropriate color of crystal, not simply a neutral tone, offering a more gracious table.
The elegance of bone china or porcelain is maintained through meticulous care, Mr. Diciacco says. Hand washing is the safest way to clean the items, and using a plastic basin to protect the pieces from chipping against metal sinks is a good idea. Overloading the sink with dishes will certainly cause damage, especially if they are left in the sink for a long period of time, he says.
Mild liquid detergents are the best choice. Abrasive cleaners should be avoided. If the dishwasher is used - and it is not recommended - use a detergent without lemon or other acidic agents. Sometimes, those products eat away the surface of the dishes. Also, make sure to hand rinse the items after using the dishwasher to remove all soap. Never allow the china to run through a high heat drying cycle; the items could break or crack from dryness.
Carico International specializes in porcelain, but Mr. Diciacco says its product competes with many manufacturers of the higher-quality bone china. Bone china, which has a similar mixture to porcelain china, is made primarily from china clay and calcified animal bone ash. The ash usually makes up from 25 percent to 50 percent of the total mixture and is added to the clay to give the china greater strength. …