December 15, 2008

Stainless Steel Flatware

Designers and flatware companies are adding more and more stainless steel to their inventory. No longer just for everyday use, wonderfully patterned designs make it possible to decorate your table without the hefty maintenance or price tag of silver. New stainless steel designs vary from clean, modern and streamlined to intricate and ornate.

What is “18/10” or “18/8”?

When shopping for new stainless steel flatware, keep in mind that it is usually referred to by two grades, 18/10 and 18/8. These grades refer to the composition of the metal. “18” refers to the percentage of chromium, which makes the metal rust proof, and also makes it “stainless”. The “10” or “8” refers to the percentage of nickel, which gives the metal its lustre and shine. The remaining percentage of metal is composite steel, which gives stainless steel its strength. 18/10 is considered the finer of the two compositions so remember to consider the composition along with the design. From pretty patterns by Wedgwood and Royal Doulton to clean, minimal designs by Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, more retailers are carrying a wider selection of stainless steel in addition to their collection of silverware.

Maintaining stainless steel

As with all flatware, stainless steel should be washed immediately after use, in hot soapy water. While dishwasher safe, some manufacturers recommend that stainless steel be dried by hand to prevent water spots. Polishing your flatware once or twice a year with stainless steel polish (not silver polish) will keep it looking its brightest.

Decorating with flatware

Decorate a beautiful tablescape by mixing your flatware. Pairing flat silver with shiny stainless steel might make the flat finish look dull in comparison, so mix and match patterns but try to keep the lustre of the flatware similar for an eclectic, casual look. Or glam up your stainless steel by dressing it with crisp white linen napkins and tablecloth, sparkling crystal or glassware, candles and fresh flowers for an elegant, sophisticated dinner table.