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Wedding Registry: China Glossary of Terms

Learn your china ABCs with our complete glossary.

Photo: Monica Buck

Here's your definitive guide to china terminology.

China

A catchall term used to describe dinnerware and dishes. Some different types of china include bone china, porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware. Bone china is the best china, and, along with porcelain, is considered fine china. Stoneware and earthenware are examples of casual china.

Formal China

Also called fine china, it is usually reserved for special occasions. Bone china and porcelain are considered fine china, and are more expensive, but of a higher quality than casual china. Fine china, made from finely ground clay, is fired at extremely high heat.

Casual China

Everyday dinnerware. It's less expensive than fine china but also less durable. Casual china is usually sold in 4-piece place settings.

Bone China

Strong, glasslike, and translucent, is considered the best china. It's made of a finely ground clay mixture, which includes bone ash, and is fired at extremely high heat. Adding bone ash creates bone china's bright white color. Despite its delicate look, it is surprisingly strong and chip resistant. It's best to wash bone china by hand, but check with the manufacturer to see if it's dishwasher safe.

Porcelain

Strong, glasslike, and translucent. High-quality china made from the same clay mixture in bone china -- minus the bone ash -- porcelain may look delicate, but it is extremely durable and chip resistant. It's best to wash porcelain by hand, but check with the manufacturer to see if it's dishwasher safe.

Earthenware

A heavy, slightly porous ceramic often used for everyday china. It was used to make most ancient and antique pottery, including English Delft. It's often glazed, and not as heavy as and less durable than stoneware.

Ironstone

A hard, heavy, durable earthenware with a white porcelain-like appearance. It's also called Masonware.

Stoneware

Safe to use in both the microwave and oven, stoneware is dishwasher safe. It's very strong (ground stone is added to the clay), heavy, and nonporous. Stoneware has a glassy surface but may feel rough. It is stronger and heavier than earthenware, and is given a glaze.

Formal Place Setting

Usually 5-piece setting, including a dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bread plate, and a cup and saucer.

Casual Place Setting

Usually 4-piece, including a dinner plate, salad/dessert plate, bread and butter plate, and mug.

-- Lisa Vincenti

See More: Registering for Wedding Gifts , Table Settings