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Porcelain vs. Stoneware: Understanding the Differences in Your Dinnerware Choices

10 Jul 2024


  1. Porcelain vs. Stoneware: Definitions and Origins
  2. What Is Porcelain?
  3. What Is Stoneware?
  4. Physical Characteristics of Stoneware and Porcelain Dinnerware
  5. Functional Differences
  6. Styling: Porcelain dinnerware vs. Stoneware dinnerware
  7. Making the Right Choice for Your Home

When looking for a complete package of aesthetics, durability, and practicality, ceramic dinnerware sets are the most popular choice for our kitchen enthusiasts. While we often don't put much thought into choosing materials for our everyday dinnerware items, placing our hands on earthy or smooth ceramic plates is like a no-brainer.

We just visit the nearest retail store or turn to online sites and buy the ones that suit our needs. In particular, porcelain and stoneware dinnerware are the main types of ceramics that are readily available and in demand. Yet, even those of us who enjoy creating enchanting dining experiences often overlook the distinct characteristics of these materials.

In this post, we'll talk about the differences between stoneware and porcelain dinnerware and how you can style them for your specific gatherings.

vancasso Vintage Handmade Spiral Arco 18-Piece Colorful Stoneware Dinnerware Set

Porcelain vs. Stoneware: Definitions and Origins

Whether it be vibrant and minimalist or classic dinnerware styles, porcelain and stoneware are a type of ceramic widely used in kitchenware items. While ceramic is still very much in trend in 2024, its origin dates back to 28000 BC.

Over the years, ceramics have been met with innovations and artistry to produce even more decorative and durable materials like porcelain and stoneware.

What Is Porcelain?

Porcelain is a traditional type of ceramic known for its smooth, creamy finish and longevity. According to UNESCO, porcelain was first made in ancient China in a primitive form during the Shang dynasty. Later on, over several dynasties, it developed into a perfect form and filtered into European material culture by the end of the 16th century.

Since its roots lie in China, many people refer to their porcelain ware as "China" (don't confuse it with bone china as there are a few differences between them).

From the raw material standpoint, porcelain uses an extremely fine mineral, petuntse, and a special type of clay, kaolin. Petuntse is composed of minerals like feldspar, quartz, and mica, while kaolin is one of the most important substances in Chinese ceramics. The substance is responsible for giving porcelain its glossy finish and coveted creamy hue.

vancasso Boho Chic Simi 12-Piece Porcelain Dinnerware Set, Service for 4, Includes Sleek Round Bowls

What Is Stoneware?

Stoneware is the most common type of ceramics you will come across in the market. It is made up of refined clay with several types of coarse additives, and compared to porcelain, stoneware is fired at a slightly lower temperature.

But similar to porcelain, stoneware also has its origins deeply rooted in China. It started being traded in Europe in the 17th century, and among the English, Dutch, and Germans, it soon became a popular material for crafting vessels for brewing teas and tisanes.

Physical Characteristics of Stoneware and Porcelain Dinnerware

While porcelain dinnerware and stoneware dinnerware both come from ceramics and are fired at extremely high temperatures, typically around 1300 °C, they have different physical characteristics.

As the name suggests, stoneware is heavier and mostly comes in earthy tones like brown, grey, and black. But you can find other unique and aesthetic colors with gloss or matte finish in the modern stoneware dinnerware sets that are glazed. For example, check out the LOVECASA Gradient Square 16 Piece Dinnerware Set by vancasso.

Also, on some occasions, stoneware undergoes partial vitrification, a process of partially transforming a material into a glass, which further requires glazing to make it non-porous.

On the other hand, porcelain is always fully vitrified. In fact, it is exposed to extremely high temperatures more than once and often for days at a time. After going through such a harsh process, porcelain finally achieves its glossy, hard texture, which resembles glass. In the world of dinnerware sets, porcelain is seen as the apple of "ceramics' eyes" for being elegant and slim but dense and non-porous.

vancasso Boho Chic Jasmin 12 Piece Porcelain Round Dinnerware Set with Bowls

Functional Differences

Stoneware and porcelain have similar characteristics like durability and robustness but different functionality. Porcelain dinnerware tends to be suitable primarily for elegant events and special celebrations due to its refined look. Styling porcelain in a casual setting might get overwhelming for the guests whereas stoneware dinnerware sets can function well in both casual and formal gatherings.

Styling: Porcelain dinnerware vs. Stoneware dinnerware

When it comes to styling, porcelain dinnerware and stoneware dinnerware appeal to different aesthetics. Porcelain plates and bowls have a delicate appearance and are usually more expensive than other dinnerware materials, so naturally you would want to take them out in a sophisticated dinner gathering, right?

You can pair a collection of white porcelain with accent pieces to highlight the bright hues or mix and match with patterned or textured pieces to add depth to the dining set. This approach allows you to tailor your table setting to match the mood of various gatherings.

On the other hand, with stoneware dinnerware sets, you are flexible to go with a modern or traditional look. If you are hosting a casual dinner for friends, you can invest in stoneware dinnerware in pastel colors like light gray, blush, or sky to add a touch of dreamy and fresh atmosphere. You can also combine it with rich-colored linens and tablecloths to brighten your table.

Making the Right Choice for Your Home

What is better porcelain or stoneware dinnerware? When comparing stoneware and porcelain, you might struggle to decide which is best for your home. Here's how you can make the right choice.

Assessing your lifestyle and needs

First, assess your lifestyle and needs. If you are looking for a dinnerware set for more casual or rough use, we suggest you buy stoneware dinnerware sets. These are heavy, durable, and long-lasting. Check out Bonbon Dessert Plates Set Of 6 on vancasso.

vancasso Spiral Bonbon 6-Piece Stoneware Dessert Plates in Beige with Speckled Design

On the other hand, porcelain dinnerware is best if you often host high-end dinner parties. If not, then don't consider porcelain. In fact, porcelain dinnerware sets are invaluable and often passed down as family heirlooms through generations. Due to its decorative appearance, durability, and elegance, porcelain dinnerware sets make a great gift for newlyweds.

Balancing beauty, functionality, and budget

Porcelain and stoneware are invaluable materials with their distinct aesthetics. Stoneware offers an earthy tone with organic vibes, and its functionality and affordability make it perfect for everyday use. If you have the budget, you can get a set of stoneware as well as porcelain dinnerware, so you are ready to host any event.

When to choose porcelain and when to opt for stoneware

If you are having a more casual dinner with family or close friends, stoneware is hands down the best choice. On the other hand, if you are planning for a special occasion like a celebratory event, porcelain, with its classic and elegant look, is the best investment. It can elevate your dining experience and even turn a pasta-and-red-sauce dinner into a special meal.

Last Words

Porcelain and stoneware are branches of the same tree (ceramic). While there are differences between the two, there are quite a lot of similarities as well. For this reason, many kitchen enthusiasts struggle to decide which one to get for their kitchen. But hopefully, with this post in your hand, you won't get stuck in your decision-making. While you are at it, visit vancasso and browse through our premium collections of stoneware dinnerware and porcelain dinnerware sets.

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