Flatware usually refers to the utensils used in a dining set. This includes spoons, forks, knives, and serving pieces. Some flatware sets also contain specialty utensils for carving meat or eating fruit. Although sterling silver dinnerware has been used for many centuries, it reached its peak popularity between 1840 and 1940. Traditionally used by wealthy citizens and royalty who enjoy putting on large dinner parties, it remains iconic of quality and refinement.
Flatware is essential in any sterling silver dinner set, and the variety of styles used in its production makes for many fine collector’s items. When not serving a functional use, silver flatware can be displayed to accent home decor. It is beautiful in a kitchen or dining room, though some items are made specifically as decorative objects and can be placed in a den or family room. Some pieces of sterling silver flatware, especially spoons, are engraved with names and dates to commemorate special events. Begin the search for sterling silver flatware by researching available items, and then choose from antique and modern styles to build a set that can be appreciated for years to come.
The classic teaspoon is part of most traditional place settings. It is used for a wide variety of items from coffee and tea, to desserts, cereal, and soup. It is what most people envision when they think of a spoon.
A dessert spoon is similar in size and shape to a soup spoon (often larger than a teaspoon, too). It has a wide, deep, oval-shaped bowl.
A tablespoon resembles a traditional teaspoon in shape, but is much larger. Tablespoons are mainly used as serving utensils for bowls placed in the middle of the table.
A soup spoon has a wider and deeper oval-shaped bowl than a tablespoon, so it can hold more liquid. It has a similar overall shape.
A demitasse spoon is similar in shape to a standard teaspoon, but generally has a longer handle and a slightly smaller bowl. It’s designed to stir coffee drinks served in small quantities such as espresso or cappuccino.
A bouillon spoon is another type of soup spoon. Bouillon spoons are generally smaller than a regular soup spoon and have a round bowl.
Iced Tea Spoon / Soda Spoon
This spoon generally has a long, thin handle and a small, oval-shaped bowl. It’s great for stirring tall drinks, milk shakes, and root beer floats.
The all-purpose dinner fork is part of almost all traditional place settings. It is usually used for the main course. In many casual or quick-serve restaurants, this may be the only fork used. Most dinner forks have four tines, but some only have three, depending on the pattern.
Cocktail / Oyster Fork
This small fork is suitable for small appetizers such as cheese cubes, olives, and oysters.
A dessert fork and a salad fork are sometimes used interchangeably, even though true dessert forks are slightly smaller and thinner than a salad fork. It is mainly used for eating desserts such as cake or pie.
A salad fork is smaller than a traditional dinner fork, and is most often used for eating salads or smaller items such as sliced fruit. It may also be used as a dessert fork, even though a true dessert fork is even smaller and more thinly-built.
European Dinner Fork
A European dinner fork is generally larger and heavier than a traditional dinner fork. It is usually used during formal occasions and can be found in many higher-end restaurants.
European Dinner Knife
A European dinner knife is nearly a third larger and heavier than a traditional dinner knife. It is most often used in formal occasions and is found in many higher-end restaurants.
A butter knife typically has a dull edge with a rounded point. This design makes it suitable for spreading jam or butter onto soft foods like rolls, muffins, or toast.