Reed Barton Sterling Silver Flatware SetForks, knives, and spoons are the tools that we use to enjoy our meals. We use them in our everyday lives and never give them a second thought. The utensils that we use every day are most commonly made from stainless steel. However, when the time arises for special occasions when we want to add a touch of sophistication and elegance to our table's place setting you should consider using sterling silver flatware.

Tableware and silverware are terms that are used interchangeably today and these are broad categories since they include utensils fabricated from a variety of materials. They were originally produced from sterling silver but today are usually made from stainless steel. Silverware is now a generic term that is used to describe cutlery regardless of the material used in its fabrication.

Sterling silver flatware is made from pure silver and another metal to add strength. True sterling silver utensils are made from an alloy that is at least 92.5% silver. Copper is added to alloy the finished material, although zinc and platinum are also sometimes added to enhance its physical properties and provide a resistance to tarnish.

Silverplate is another process used to manufacture cutlery to reduce cost. It was originally a process when a foil layer of silver was bonded to a core metal and fused to it, but it is now an electrochemical process where silver atoms are attached to the core material. Today's process only applies a very thin layer of silver to the outside of the utensil itself. And although this has definite economic advantages this thin layer has the potential to wear through.

Authenic sterling Silver flatware is an investment that should last a lifetime. Although most hosts and hostesses reserve its use for more formal occasions, anniversaries and holidays, it can be used on a daily basis to provide a bit of luxury to our lives. Today, sterling silver flatware is available from high end manufacturers such as Gorham, Wallace, Towle, Lunt, Rogers and Reed Barton.

The use of sterling silver flatware has diminished in recent times due to its high cost, but even middle-class families of previous generations would have a set of sterling silver utensils and fine china. These were often gifted to the couple as a wedding present and used by them during special occassions and for dinner parties. This was the flatware of choice dating back to the late 19th century to add beauty, class and sophistication to the dining table.

Patterns for these utensils can range from simple and understated designs to the elaborate and ornate patterns that signify extravagance. Many times today a couple will start with a small set of sterling silver flatware and add additional place settings and serving utensils as their budget permits. They will also maintain a gift registry so that family and friends will know the exact pattern and pieces that they require to complete their set.

Many people are under the belief that sterling Silver flatware is delicate and requires constant maintenance. However, it really does not readily tarnish and its beauty and integrity can be maintained with just a little bit of effort. It does require immediate cleaning after use with a proper detergent (avoiding citrus products and chlorides) and a periodic cleaning with an anti-tarnish polish. This is particularly true if there is any acidity in the food. Silver utensils should not be soaked in water overnight since this may damage the metal. Also, the high heat of a dishwasher during its drying period may also separate the knife handles from the blades.

Sterling Silver Flatware ChestTarnish is the result of oxidation and oxidation is a chemical process that can harm many metals. A rusty nail is in fact a nail that has been oxidized. To prevent tarnish to your silver flatware you will need to restrict its contact with both water and air. This can be done in an airtight container or a specialized silverware chest.

Many people today have collectible hobbies and one that is gaining popularity is the collection of sterling silver flatware and silver plated tableware. This is often done by collectors in conjunction with their collection of other silver and silver plated antiques. These collectors spend much time researching their items and will focus their collection on particular hallmarks and patterns. These collectors will usually enjoy the beauty and durability of their sterling silver tableware and make frequent use of it. Often times their place settings will be an eclectic mix of mismatched pieces that are often tied together by silverware patterns that can match and complement each other. Collectors often make use of their Silver tableware and enjoy its practical side while enjoying its aesthetic properties while at the same time awaiting the financial dividends that they may provide as they age and appreciate in value.