Royal Doulton's Guide to Buying Dinnerware

Choosing the right dinnerware set is all about finding the right items to match the tone of how you like to eat and entertain...

Royal Doulton’s Guide to Buying Dinnerware

When you envision eating dinner or having a dinner party, the second thought that usually comes to mind (after the food on your plate, of course) is what kind of dinnerware set you’ll be using as the vessel for feeding your friends and family.


Choosing the right dinnerware set is all about finding the right items to match the tone of how you like to eat and entertain; whether it be formal, casual, traditional, contemporary or outdoors.


The bowlsplatescutlery and accessories you choose as the dinnerware for your home should strike a balance between style and practicality, meaning they should not only suit the aesthetic of your home, but also the way you like to eat.


So, whether you’re choosing dinnerware that is made from bone china, porcelain or another material, we’ve put together an easy dinnerware buying guide so you can decide what you need to have as part of your dinnerware set collection. We’ve also included tips on how to look after your dinnerware properly, to ensure you enjoy it for many years to come. 

The different types of dinnerware materials


Porcelain is traditionally made from kaolin (a silicate material that gives porcelain its plasticity, structure and pentunse) and pottery stone (giving the ceramic its translucency or hardness). Porcelain has a non-porous surface and is fired at 1200 degrees centigrade, meaning it’s resistant to extremely high temperatures. It’s typically dishwasher, microwave and oven safe, however some pieces may have metallic accents, so make sure to check on the product description to ensure it is microwavable safe.

Here at Royal Doulton, we have been manufacturing ceramics and porcelain since 1815, so when it comes to porcelain dinnerware you’re in safe hands.  The majority of dinnerware across our collections is made from chip-resistant porcelain and all porcelain pieces are microwave safe and oven safe up to 100C.

Our personal favourites from porcelain collections include:

  • 1815 - A vibrant range of durable chip-resistant porcelain dinnerware
  • Pacific - Rigorously tested porcelain - durable and perfect for everyday use


Ideal for everyday family use, stoneware dinner sets get set with a special finishing glaze, giving them a smooth look and making them virtually impenetrable when it comes to chipping. However, stoneware cannot be exposed to high heat or freezing temperatures, so it’s important to be careful to maintain your stoneware dinner sets.

Just like Porcelain, our Stoneware dinnerware pieces are all microwavable safe (unless there are any metal patterns or finishes), and also oven-safe up to 100C.

You can browse a lovely range of stoneware dinnerware from our popular Ellen DeGeneres and Gordon Ramsay collections.  Some of our personal favourites include:


‘Melamine dinnerware’ refers to any dinnerware that has melamine resin present within it. Melamine resin is created by combining melamine (and organic compound) with formaldehyde using a combination of heat and pressure. Melamine dinnerware is heat resistant, fire resistant, and extremely durable when it comes to drops and breakages.

Bone china

What is bone china?

Bone china is a durable, lightweight and elegant material that is made from china clay, china stone and bone ash. It was traditionally considered to be the highest quality ceramic used for tableware, and perfect for both everyday use and special occasions due to the fact that it’s chip resistant (as well as stunningly beautiful).

Is bone china microwave safe?

Like the other materials covered in this guide, generally speaking, yes! However, it will depend on whether the pattern or finish contains metal.

If bone china dinnerware is your material of choice, we recommend our friends over at Wedgwood and Royal Albert. Both also part of the Fiskars family, Wedgwood and Royal Albert are world leading manufacturers in Bone China Dinnerware and Teaware so you’ll be spoilt for choice with a range of patterns and exceptional quality!

Dinnerware pieces for different occasions

What comes in a standard dinnerware set?

Royal Doulton dinner sets come in a host of different sizes and configurations, ranging from 12 piece sets to 16 piece sets. Here are some examples of what is included in a variety of standard dinnerware set sizes. 

16 piece dinnerware set
4 x dinner plates
4 x side plates
4 x cereal bowls
4 x mugs

12 piece dinnerware set
4 x dinner plates
4 x salad plates
4 x all-purpose bowls

Selecting dinnerware for hosting and entertaining

Special occasion dinnerware serves as the perfect blank canvas for the food you’re preparing and enjoying with your friends and family at dinner parties, lunchtime weekend BBQs, afternoon teas, or whatever other occasion you choose to make special. Choosing the right dinnerware set for hosting and entertaining involves taking space, style and size into account. 

If you have enough space to store larger dinnerware sets, then you should definitely purchase enough settings for the biggest event you can envision yourself hosting at your home. It might be a large family Christmas, a birthday party, or perhaps just a light meal with two or three friends. Whichever option it is, you should have enough dinnerware sets to cater for the way you like to entertain at home. 

Dinnerware sets for hosting and entertaining are also a chance for you to show off your style and taste. You could choose stand-out dinner sets featuring elaborate patterns, stunning metallic accents, vivid colours or gorgeous textures to really wow your guests the next time they’re visiting. Alternatively, you can opt for a classic plain look, and let the fresh colours of your food do the talking instead.

Selecting the right dinnerware for everyday use

For everyday use, your dinnerware set collection will need to be more focused on practicality and durability. Everyday dinnerware sets are more likely to be exposed to breakages and chips, so opt for porcelain or bone china to ensure your dinnerware set is strong and chip-resistant. This is especially true if your countertops are stone or granite and your dinnerware might be subject to some rough handling. 

In terms of style, and seeing as you’re going to be using these plates everyday, you really can’t go wrong with a classic, beautiful white. They make a great base set, and you can always add interest and accent with colourful bowls or mugs

The third consideration with everyday dinnerware is to not skimp on quality. It’s best to spend a little more and make an investment to ensure your dinnerware set lasts a long time. You don’t want to have to constantly be replacing dinnerware sets that were on the cheaper side because they break every time they’re put in the dishwasher!

How to care for Royal Doulton Dinnerware

All Royal Doulton dinner sets are durable and chip-resistant, however there are still measures you can take to make sure you serve your family and friends on the same favourite Royal Doulton dinnerware for years to come. 

Royal Doulton dinnerware sets are:

  • Microwave safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven safe
  • Chip resistant
  • Break resistant

Here are some tips for washing your Royal Doulton dinnerware set:

  • Wash dishes straight away to remove any acidic or sticky food residue.
  • When hand-washing, wash each dish individually using a mild liquid detergent and a non-abrasive cloth. Having a plastic tub in the sink is also a good idea, as it will protect from the harsh stainless steel of the sink. 
  • If using a dishwasher, take care not to overload the rack, and keep metal items away from your casual tableware - even light contact could scratch, chip or crack your dishes. 

Here are some tips for keeping your Royal Doulton tableware in stunning condition:

  • Soak your pieces in white vinegar for three minutes before rinsing and towel drying them to remove hard water spots.
  • Remove coffee stains from mugs (as well as fork marks from plates) by rubbing a paste of baking soda and water over the dinnerware before rinsing and drying. 
  • To prevent scratching and chipping your casual tableware, put it in a fabric storage case, or put segments of fabric, tissue paper or napkins between each piece when stacking. 

Your considerations when buying dinnerware


It’s handy to have dinnerware that will suit both casual everyday use and more formal scenarios. You can experiment with different styles of dinnerware that showcase your personality and complement your home’s decor, which is why we offer lots of mix and match options at Royal Doulton.


Choosing hand-decorated, patterned, solid or banded dinnerware makes a bold design statement, but opting for neutral dinnerware like whites and greys will always be the most versatile option. Be adventurous, but consider options for pieces that are ‘stylish’ rather than ‘trendy’, as you’ll want an investment like this to remain fashionable for years to come. 


Another consideration when purchasing dinnerware is your preferred shape. Square, oblong and oval items tend to have an edgier and more contemporary feel, whereas round shapes maintain a classic appeal. Items with a rim tend to feel more formal and are used when consuming foods that may splash, and ‘coupe’ items (without a rim) are for more informal occasions where the food can be eaten without cutting or general difficulty. 

Your shelf size

It’s a great idea to make sure you have enough dinnerware sets for both everyday use and situations where you are hosting/entertaining, however you’ll need to consider where you’re going to store these items. Take a look at the size of your shelf space, and aim to buy dinnerware sets that will fit spaciously into these areas. Collections from the Royal Doulton 1815 families are all based on the same shapes, just different designs - so they’re easy to stack in the smallest of spaces!


As you can see, there are many things to take into account when purchasing your very own dinnerware set. We hope this dinnerware buying guide has helped you to narrow down your search or feel more empowered and clear on your decisions when choosing dinnerware. 

Explore stunning dinnerware sets available at Royal Doulton, or shop the latest pieces for your home.