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Flatware 101

5-Piece Place Setting

The traditional 5-piece setting consists of all the essentials: a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, dinner spoon and teaspoon. You will probably want eight to twelve place settings in all, depending upon your entertaining and dining habits. Expanded sets are an easy way to complete your flatware collection. These sets include a tablespoon, pierced tablespoon, cold meat fork, sugar spoon and butter knife. Some may also include a pie/cake server, gravy ladle or casserole spoon.

Sterling Silver is the premium variety of silverware, crafted from 925 parts silver to 75 parts alloy such as nickel or copper for durability. Genuine sterling silver is always marked as such. While more costly than silverplate and stainless steel, there are many benefits to owning real sterling silver. Sterling silver is a luxury you can enjoy every day, and a precious heirloom that can last forever. Care: For best results, hand wash and hand dry. Polish regularly to retain the flatware's luster. Sterling silver is dishwasher safe as long as it is washed separately from other metals. Do not soak as it can cause pitting and discoloration.

Stainless Steel is a fabricated material. There are different varieties of stainless. "18/10" stainless steel is the highest quality; the alloy contains 18 percent chromium, and 10 percent nickel. The chromium makes the metal rust proof and stain resistant, while the nickel gives it luster and shine. The rest of the metal is composite steel, which makes the utensils strong. Some stainless steel flatware is made of 18/8 stainless steel or 18/0 stainless steel, which can be less expensive; though it is often difficult to tell the difference. Stainless will last approximately 100 years with proper care. Care: Stainless steel is dishwasher-safe. Don't use a lemon detergent. Polish for special occasions. Do not soak.

Silver-plate: Lighter in weight but lower in durability, this flatware has a metal base (nickel, copper or zinc) covered by a silver finish. Care: hand wash and hand dry. Polish regularly to retain the flatware's luster. Silverplate is dishwasher safe as long as it is washed separately from other metals. Do not soak.

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