What Is Fine Bone China?
If you’re browsing online for a new dinner set, you may see the terms fine china, bone china, or porcelain pop up in your search. But how can you tell the difference, and what is fine bone china? With its milky white hue and delicate yet durable properties, fine bone china has become increasingly popular, from unique dishes to full-on dinner sets.
What is the difference between porcelain and bone china?
Both porcelain and bone china are composed of feldspar, kaolin, and quartz. Bone china has one additional ingredient though - bone ash. The two ceramic types are also fired at vastly different temperatures. Bone china is fired at what would be considered a lower temperature of around 1250oC, while porcelain usually is at over 1400oC. The lower temperature helps to produce a thinner, finer material. Porcelain is thicker and non-porous while bone china may be translucent when held up to a light source. Bone china is also fired at least twice and can be fired up to 5 times for decorated products.
What makes bone china into fine bone china?
High-quality fine bone china should have a minimum bone ash level of 30% in the UK, which is what gives it a distinctively brighter texture when compared to porcelain. Each country has specific guidelines for what constitutes fine bone china and typically range from 25% bone ash content upwards. The lower firing temperatures for fine bone china also allows for thinner-walled, more delicate ceramic pieces like teacups to be made.
What does fine bone china look like?
Fine bone china is a brighter white than porcelain and does not have the glassy appearance of porcelain products. It is also lighter, more translucent and very portable, which is why tea sets are often made of fine bone china. Despite the seemingly fragile appearance, fine bone china is exceptionally durable and is far more chip-resistant than porcelain. This is why you’ll often see fine bone china used in high-end hotel chains and restaurants.
How is fine bone china made?
Fine bone china is made in the following steps:
- The clay is made by mixing the raw ingredients (including the bone ash), with water. The clay is mixed and ground by machine for about 24 hours. Any slurry is removed by sieve, and air and water are pumped out of the mixture. The mixture is sliced into discs and separated ahead of moulding.
- Simpler pieces like round bowls or mugs are made by a process called jiggering. More unique pieces like gravy boats or teacups are made by a process known as casting.
- The first firing, called biscuit firing, takes place over about 15 hours. After the first firing, the glaze is sprayed onto the ‘biscuit’ by either hand or machine. The second firing is called glost firing and fixes the glaze. The decoration is added, and the third glazing takes place.
Crown Trent of Bond Street has a selection of high-quality dinnerware, teaware and wedding ware fine bone china available at exceptional quality and prices. Browse our selection today to find the right fine bone china for you.