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
Antique silverware set of cups
Antique silverware set of cups
$2,200.00
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Cutlery 40 Piece Flatware Set Stainless Steel Silverware Villeroy
Cutlery 40 Piece Flatware Set Stainless Steel Silverware Villeroy
$160.99
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Pfaltzgraff Kenilworth Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Pc place setting
Pfaltzgraff Kenilworth Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Pc place setting
$20.00
Time Remaining: 1h 21m
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Pfaltzgraff Kenilworth Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Pc place setting
Pfaltzgraff Kenilworth Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Pc place setting
$25.00
Time Remaining: 1h 23m
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Reed and Barton SELECT JAPAN TAOS DINNER FORK Stainless Silverware 7 5 8
Reed and Barton SELECT JAPAN TAOS DINNER FORK Stainless Silverware 7 5 8
$6.99
Time Remaining: 1h 38m
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Reed  Barton Flatware Chest Mahogany Silverware Service Wooden Box Case Silver
Reed Barton Flatware Chest Mahogany Silverware Service Wooden Box Case Silver
$78.89
Time Remaining: 1h 41m
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19 Pc SL  GH Rogers Silverplated Silverware Set 1934 Encore
19 Pc SL GH Rogers Silverplated Silverware Set 1934 Encore
$37.49
Time Remaining: 2h
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1847 ROGERS BROS FIRST LOVE 1937 SILVERWARE SERVING SPOON 8 1 2 INCHES
1847 ROGERS BROS FIRST LOVE 1937 SILVERWARE SERVING SPOON 8 1 2 INCHES
$5.99
Time Remaining: 2h 26m
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LOT OF 7 1847 ROGERS BROS DAFFODIL 1950 SILVERWARE SPOONS 6 1 8 INCHES
LOT OF 7 1847 ROGERS BROS DAFFODIL 1950 SILVERWARE SPOONS 6 1 8 INCHES
$17.49
Time Remaining: 2h 36m
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1847 ROGERS BROS DAFFODIL 1950 SILVERWARE SUGAR SPOON + MASTER BUTTER KNIVE
1847 ROGERS BROS DAFFODIL 1950 SILVERWARE SUGAR SPOON + MASTER BUTTER KNIVE
$5.99
Time Remaining: 3h 2m
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Vintage QUEEN ANNE Cooper Bros  Sons England Silverware Flatware Choice
Vintage QUEEN ANNE Cooper Bros Sons England Silverware Flatware Choice
$34.99
Time Remaining: 3h 21m
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Cuisinart Trevoux Flatware Set Stainless Silverware Forks Spoons
Cuisinart Trevoux Flatware Set Stainless Silverware Forks Spoons
$9.99
Time Remaining: 4h 6m
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Oneida Satin Sand Dune Silverware Stainless Flatware Fork Knife or Spoon Choice
Oneida Satin Sand Dune Silverware Stainless Flatware Fork Knife or Spoon Choice
$3.50
Time Remaining: 4h 10m
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Oneida Brahms Shell Casserole Spoon Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Brahms Shell Casserole Spoon Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
$12.95
Time Remaining: 4h 10m
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8 Discontinued ONEIDA SUNNYBROOK Dinner FORKS flatware stainless silverware
8 Discontinued ONEIDA SUNNYBROOK Dinner FORKS flatware stainless silverware
$24.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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FRANKFURT SOLINGEN GERMANY 12 pcs flatware stainless silverware FORK SPOON KNIFE
FRANKFURT SOLINGEN GERMANY 12 pcs flatware stainless silverware FORK SPOON KNIFE
$12.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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4 IKEA FORNUFT DINNER FORKS flatware stainless glossy plain silverware
4 IKEA FORNUFT DINNER FORKS flatware stainless glossy plain silverware
$12.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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4 IKEA FORNUFT Teaspoons flatware stainless glossy plain round tip silverware
4 IKEA FORNUFT Teaspoons flatware stainless glossy plain round tip silverware
$12.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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4 Discontinued ONEIDA SUNNYBROOK Salad FORKS flatware stainless silverware
4 Discontinued ONEIDA SUNNYBROOK Salad FORKS flatware stainless silverware
$12.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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6 Royal Norfolk DINNER FORKS flatware VENICE stainless glossy table silverware
6 Royal Norfolk DINNER FORKS flatware VENICE stainless glossy table silverware
$9.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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4 IKEA FORNUFT Salad Dessert FORKS flatware stainless glossy plain silverware
4 IKEA FORNUFT Salad Dessert FORKS flatware stainless glossy plain silverware
$12.50
Time Remaining: 4h 11m
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1964 AD Alvin Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Pirouette Eternal Rose Scroll
1964 AD Alvin Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Pirouette Eternal Rose Scroll
$12.99
Time Remaining: 4h 14m
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Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware One set
Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware One set
$14.99
Time Remaining: 4h 21m
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Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware 3 knives
Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware 3 knives
$14.99
Time Remaining: 4h 21m
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Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware 3 spoons
Brand New Versailles by MSI Japan stainless flatware silverware 3 spoons
$14.99
Time Remaining: 4h 21m
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Reed and Barton Japan Select 18 10 Stainless Silverware TELLURIDE Dinner Knife
Reed and Barton Japan Select 18 10 Stainless Silverware TELLURIDE Dinner Knife
$5.95
Time Remaining: 4h 21m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
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