Silverware Flatware

Different Types of Silverware Explained


Historically, silverware referred only to those household items that were manufactured from silver. This could include anything from candlesticks, tea services, flatware, and cutlery. Today, silverware is a generic term that is used to describe all types of flatware and cutlery, regardless of its composition.

Silverware, as the name implies, was historically made from (obviously) silver. However, being a very soft and malleable metal, it was necessary to blend the silver with another metal to enhance its strength. This gave rise to the alloy called Sterling Silver, which has long been recognized as the 'silver' standard. Sterling Silver contains (by law) 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metals - typically copper. More recently, other metals (such as zinc and platinum) have been used to enhance specific properties, such as resistance to tarnish, but none have been able to replace copper as the standard. So, if you're fortunate enough to have inherited, purchased (or possibly even collect) sterling silver, it contains at least 92.5% pure silver (and as the price of silver goes up, so does the value of your flatware).

Silverplate cutlery is made from a base metal (usually copper, nickel, or zinc) which is coated with a layer of silver. Originally, silver and copper were melted and fused together into a composite, the two layers behaving as one. Around 1770 the 'double sandwich' or Sheffield process was developed, where a copper core is 'sandwiched' between two layers of silver, then heated and formed. This continued until about 1840 when it was replaced by the highly efficient electroplating process. Electroplating deposits a very thin layer (typically 35 microns) of silver onto another conductive metal, as an electrical current passes through them. One benefit of electroplating is that the surface is made of pure silver, not sterling silver. Unfortunately, the silver layer itself is quite thin, so the majority of the part consists of the cheaper core metal.

All other types of flatware and cutlery, typically referred to as 'silverware' contain no silver at all. Today's most common varieties are made of stainless steel, typically the 18/8 or 18/10 alloys. The numbers refer to the composition of the steel alloy. The base metal is iron, and it is blended with 18% chromium and 8% (or 10%) nickel. Higher quality stainless steel flatware will be heavier than 'cheaper' versions.
Other materials from which cutlery has been made include gold (solid and plated), brass, and pewter, all of which obviously contain no silver.

As you can see, just because the flatware or cutlery you purchased is called silverware, that doesn't guarantee it will be made of silver. Depending on the type of silverware you purchase, it may contain sterling silver, silver and copper, or possibly no silver at all.

How its Made - Flatware
McGraw Wood Tarnish Proof Silverware Flatware Storage Chest with Drawer
McGraw Wood Tarnish Proof Silverware Flatware Storage Chest with Drawer
$39.99
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52 PC SERVICE 8 COMMUNITY SILVER PLATE FLATWARE SILVERWARE EVENING STAR W BOX
52 PC SERVICE 8 COMMUNITY SILVER PLATE FLATWARE SILVERWARE EVENING STAR W BOX
$75.00
Time Remaining: 31m
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Christofle Silverware set complete for 24
Christofle Silverware set complete for 24
$25,000.00
Time Remaining: 32m
Buy It Now for only: $33,000.00
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20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
$35.99
Time Remaining: 33m
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20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
$24.50
Time Remaining: 34m
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Cambridge Silverware Flatware 20 Piece Set For 4 FAST SHIP NEW
Cambridge Silverware Flatware 20 Piece Set For 4 FAST SHIP NEW
$27.99
Time Remaining: 34m
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60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
$72.99
Time Remaining: 34m
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VINTAGE TOWLE GRAND DUCHESS STERLING SILVER ELEGANT SPOON RING Like SILVERWARE
VINTAGE TOWLE GRAND DUCHESS STERLING SILVER ELEGANT SPOON RING Like SILVERWARE
$65.00
Time Remaining: 35m
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AMERICANA JULY 4TH PATRIOTIC SILVERWARE FLATWARE STORAGE BASKET RED WHITE
AMERICANA JULY 4TH PATRIOTIC SILVERWARE FLATWARE STORAGE BASKET RED WHITE
$17.95
Time Remaining: 36m
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Wallace Ballet Oval Soup Place Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware Replacements
Wallace Ballet Oval Soup Place Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware Replacements
$1.99
Time Remaining: 36m
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Vintage Towle 18 8 Silverware Japan 2pc set Dinner 3 tine Forks great condition
Vintage Towle 18 8 Silverware Japan 2pc set Dinner 3 tine Forks great condition
$44.99
Time Remaining: 38m
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Vintage Towle 18 8 SilverwareTeaSpoonmade in Japan great condition
Vintage Towle 18 8 SilverwareTeaSpoonmade in Japan great condition
$19.99
Time Remaining: 38m
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60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Black
$79.99
Time Remaining: 39m
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Magnet Lunch Box Spork Spoon Fork Spoons Silverware Vintage 4Color 1PCS Platware
Magnet Lunch Box Spork Spoon Fork Spoons Silverware Vintage 4Color 1PCS Platware
$6.99
Time Remaining: 41m
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20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon White
20 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 4 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon White
$34.99
Time Remaining: 43m
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Cambridge Fiesta Carnival Silverware Stainless Flatware Set 80 Pieces For 16 NEW
Cambridge Fiesta Carnival Silverware Stainless Flatware Set 80 Pieces For 16 NEW
$132.71
Time Remaining: 43m
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Wm Rogers REGENT Silverplate Flatware Silverware Set of 51 w ORIG Receipt 1949
Wm Rogers REGENT Silverplate Flatware Silverware Set of 51 w ORIG Receipt 1949
$115.00
Time Remaining: 44m
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60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Blue
60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon Blue
$112.99
Time Remaining: 45m
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Oneida Cherie Dinner Knife Hollow Handle Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Cherie Dinner Knife Hollow Handle Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware
$5.95
Time Remaining: 47m
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silverware
silverware
$30.00
Time Remaining: 48m
Buy It Now for only: $45.00
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Gourmet Settings Vault Matte Dinner Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 10
Gourmet Settings Vault Matte Dinner Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 10
$5.95
Time Remaining: 48m
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Oneida Rembrandt Teaspoon Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Rembrandt Teaspoon Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
$8.95
Time Remaining: 51m
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STERLING SILVER DECORATIVE SOUP PUNCH LADLE FLATWARE SILVERWARE
STERLING SILVER DECORATIVE SOUP PUNCH LADLE FLATWARE SILVERWARE
$220.00
Time Remaining: 53m
Buy It Now for only: $300.00
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60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon White
60 Piece Silverware Flatware Complete Set For 12 Fork Knife Spoon Teaspoon White
$96.99
Time Remaining: 54m
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Dinner Flatware and Silverware Set
Dinner Flatware and Silverware Set
$38.29
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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Mixed Lot of 21 Collectible Silverware with Native American Beading Collectible
Mixed Lot of 21 Collectible Silverware with Native American Beading Collectible
$40.00
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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Silverware Flatware
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  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
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