Cutlery buying guide: how to find the right set
To choose the right cutlery set, you need to ask yourself two basic questions: What are my expectations regarding durability and quality, and what visual details are important to me? The first aspect depends on the material the cutlery is made of while the second is a question of processing and finish.
Which material should I go for?
For several centuries, silver was considered the number one choice of material. Wood, mother-of-pearl, aluminium, brass, iron and occasionally even porcelain and glass were also used to produce cutlery. However, since silver cutlery is rather expensive and turns dark when it comes into contact with food that contains sulphur, most cutlery today is made of stainless steel, better known as «18/10 stainless» or «chromenickel steel». The number eighteen stands for the proportion of chromium and the number ten for the proportion of nickel in the alloy. Chrome keeps the steel stainless, while nickel makes the material acid-proof. The higher the chrome content, the more corrosion-resistant the cutlery is.
Other stainless steel types from which cutlery is made of:
Based on 18/10 stainless steel, the manufacturer WMF has created its own trade name for its stainless steel: «Cromargan». It was later developed into a material called «Cromargan protect» , which is hard, stainless, insensitive to acids, scratch-resistant and retains its original shape. This is also reflected in the price.
Chrome steel is an alloy of chrome and iron, which is often used for the production of cutlery in the lower price segment. As they don’t contain nickel, these products are less resistant to acids and therefore also more affordable.
The quality of the cutlery depends not only on the material it's made of but also on how it's made. This includes the following aspects: Have the fork prongs been edged? Have the cutlery items been carefully rounded? Is the surface free of creases and pores?
With knives, pay attention to how the blades have been sharpened. Serrated edges, for instance, make sure knives are long-lasting and sharp and are used for harder or crispy foods such as pizza. Saw blades are suitable for food with a smooth surface and smooth blades are best suitable for vegetables and meat. Smooth blades also blunt more quickly. There are two types of blades: forged and stamped.
Monobloc vs. inserted blade
Monobloc knives are made of a single piece of stainless steel. This type of knife is usually less expensive because it's easier to produce and loses its sharpness more quickly.
Knives with an inserted blade are slightly more expensive. These are manufactured from several parts: the handle, which is welded together from two shells, and a separate blade, which is inserted into this handle. Knives made with this technique are lighter and sit better in the hand. As this manufacturing process is particularly time-consuming, the price of such a knife can be double or even triple that of a monobloc knife. The handle is made of the same material as the rest of the cutlery in the set. Only the blade is made of knife steel.
Finish and plating
Apart from different colours, designs and quantities, there are three types of cutlery finishes.
To matt the surface, the cutlery is machine-brushed. Scratches are more noticeable in this type of cutlery.
A «satin finish» describes a slightly matt effect, which is achieved by sandblasting. Scratches are also easy to see on this cutlery.
Most cutlery sets are polished. This means they have a smooth and shiny surface, which provides optimum protection against corrosion.