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China Lexicon

If you don't already have service for twelve, clear some space on your shelves. Veteran china man Michael C. Fina and the experts at Lenox define the terms you'll need to know when making your choices.

China
A nonporous (won’t absorb water) type of clayware made of special white clay and fired at exceptionally high temperatures.

Transclucency
The quality by which light passes through an object. In high-quality china, your hand will be visible through the back of the plate when held up to a bright light.

Vitreous
Literally, like glass, meaning the ceramic is nonporous. Vitrified products are usually dishwasher- and microwave-safe; they are also much stronger.

Bone China
China made with real or synthetic bone ash to add bright white coloring.

Fine China
A vitrified dinnerware with great translucency. Ivory fine china refers to the hue of the china, not the materials of which it is made.

Earthenware
Thick, opaque, porous-bodied dinnerware made from clay.

Stoneware
A hard dinnerware made of a single light clay and fired at a high temperature.

Porcelain
A hard, translucent clayware that differs slightly from china in ingredients and manufacturing processes.

French Limoges
A term given to porcelain produced in the Limoges region of France.

Accent Plate
Generally nine inches in diameter and designed to be more decorative to create contrast with the rest of the place setting.

Open Stock
The ability to purchase items as individual units—for instance, one teacup versus a teacup and a saucer.

Four-piece Place Setting
Buffet, dinner, and accent plates and mug

Five-piece Place Setting
Dinner, salad/dessert, and bread-and-butter plates; teacup; and saucer.

Twelve-piece Set
Four dinner and four salad plates and four mugs.

Twenty-piece Set
Four five-piece place settings.

From the Fall 2005 New York Wedding Guide

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