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Jan 20, 2011 05:22 PM

French porcelain vs bone china - can't decide!

OK, I can't decide - I'm struggling to choose between Wedgwood and Pillivuyt for a (large) set of fine, plain white dinnerware. So, I'm putting the question out there for you guys.

From my perspective, the advantages and disadvantages of each are:

Wedgwood/bone china:

- Whiter
- Thinner and finer, looks classier

- Fewer serving pieces available (e.g. dip bowls, cake stands, multiple-well serving dishes, Asian rice/noodle bowls, oyster plates)
- No matching oven-safe bakeware pieces (unless someone can think of a set which matches the whiteness of Wedgwood White bone china)


- Many more serving pieces available
- Oven-safe, with bakeware to match (e.g. casseroles, lasagne dishes)

- Bulkier, not as fine-looking (although they are still used in high-end restaurants)
- Off-white (unless there is a whiter variety of porcelain available)

Essentially, I love the fine construction and milky whiteness of bone china, but also like the variety of serving pieces available for the porcelain.

Which would you choose, and why? Or is there an alternative which I'm missing?

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  1. We just bought Apilco about a year or so ago, and it's great. I think you have nailed the advantages and disadvantages reasonably well. One thing I can say for the porcelain, it's tough as nails.

    11 Replies
    1. re: mikie

      Have you noticed the Apilco to be thinner or whiter than the Pillivuyt ranges? IMO the Pillivuyt looks slightly blue-grey even next to cheap Maxwell & Williams pieces. What about Revol? Only Pillivuyt is easily available in retail stores here in Australia, so I'd have to order online (and, it seems, Revol is almost impossible to obtain online from outside the US).

      p.s. is there such a thing as oven-safe, white bone china suitable for baking? Or a porcelain equivalent which is just as white?

      1. re: sunrider

        Sunrider, I have Wedgwood, Pillivuyt, Revol,and Apilco and you have nailed the main differences. Only thing I'd add is that Wedgwood is lighter in weight and more compact - easier to store, etc. -- while the porcelain is more dishwasher friendly (Wedgwood w/o platinum or other fine/metal detailing can go in d/w but I tk it's not as good for it).

        Pillivuyt, Revol and Apilco are very similar tone/color and all have the same grayish/bluish cast, even more pronounced next to the WW or other warmer whites - at least to my eyes. The light can impact this, though - in certain lights the porcelain looks brighter/more white, in other light it looks more muddy/gray/blue.

        Do you already have a set of everyday china that you love? If so, I might go for Wedgwood, especially if you want to dress things up on occasion - it truly is beautiful and more elegant. If not, have you considered getting french porcelain for everyday and Wedgwood for special occasions (+everyday, for when you just feel like it)? That's what I did and I'm happy w that choice!

        1. re: sunrider

          We have Pillivuyt and Apilco serving pieces and I would say the Apilco serving pieces are thinner. However, the color seems to be the same to me. I don't know if the plates are thinner from Apilco to Pillivuyt or not. What we viewed as a bonus was that the two manufacturers had pieces similar enough that you could mix and match service pieces. For example, the Apilco large oval platter isn't all that large, but Pillivuyt's oval platters are much larger, so it extends the range.

          I have to agree with everything iyc_nyc stated, the French porcelain is more of a blue (cool) white while the other whites are yellow (warm) whites. I had a tough time with traditional French onion soup bowls, finding something to closely match. I didn't want the lions head bowls, and ended up ordering a "bright white" china bowl. It's still not as blue, but it's much closer than the regular white.

          1. re: mikie

            Mikie, what was the brand of your 'bright white' china bowl? I've been told that Wedgwood's 'bright white' was the same white as their other bone china lines..

            1. re: iyc_nyc

              All of Wedgwood's white bone china lines match (including the Jasper Conran lines), apart from the Vera Wang lines (which appear to be creamier). They also match with Doulton and Villeroy & Boch bone china (not surprising, since they own Doulton) and V&B fine non-bone china, as well as Wedgwood's Edme White line, surprisingly enough...

              1. re: sunrider

                Hmm, i have Vera Wang bone china and it appears to be the same white as Wedgwood's regular whites.. Sunrider, did you see them side by side or did someone say they were different?

                1. re: iyc_nyc

                  I compared them side-by-side in the same lighting.

                  Maybe I accidentally picked up one of the slightly-off-white Vera Wang ranges by mistake...

                  1. re: sunrider

                    Haha, I did the same and they appeared the same! :-)

                    But you might have a better eye for color than I.

              2. re: iyc_nyc

                What I found for French Onion soup was Hall, their regular white is a very warm white, but the bright white is a cooler white and although not an identical match to the Apilco, it's close enough you can have them on the tabe at the same time. I was looking for something that would go in the oven. I don't really know how these would go with Wedgewood.

            2. re: sunrider

              Just out of curiosity where have you found in Australia that stocks Pillivuyt?
              I have only seen it in,
              Peters of Kensington, the bay tree, And Melbourne wedding Registry.

              1. re: snax

                You can buy Pillivuyt at David Jones.

          2. Thickness/heft-wise, would you say the three French lines (Pillivuyt/Revol/Apilco) can be mixed and matched? From what I can see in photos, the Revol dinnerware appears slightly finer than the other two lines and I'm seriously considering a set of Grand Classiques Alaska plates/bowls. Will Pillivuyt/Apilco servingware look too thick and heavy alongside them, though? What about Pillivuyt's Valencay line (again, finer than the Sancerre line, but with a limited range of pieces)?

            Regarding Wedgwood and other white bone china, for more formal occasions, how have you managed to serve baked dishes, etc. when the serving dishes are not ovenproof? I like to match the servingware with the dinner plates, but if there's nothing available which matches the whiteness...

            1 Reply
            1. re: sunrider

              I've found that the same line can have items in different thicknesses. E.g., even just at WS, they have different Apilco lines with different heft and thicknesses.. So can't really generalize that one line is thicker than other. I do tk you can easily mix and match across these three French porcelain lines..

            2. Another French porcelain maker is Bernardaud. They have a number of all white (cool white, as opposed to a warm white) patterns, including Louvre, Naxos, Fusion Blanc (also called Fusion White), Digital, Organza patterns.

              Some patterns are easier to find in the US than others. On the French version of their web site, you can see all the current white patterns,

              I have Naxos and Fusion. A friend has Louvre, which has a huge number of pieces, some of which are bakeware. I also have various Apilco, Pillvuyt and Revol pieces and some work well with Bernardaud's shades of white.

              3 Replies
              1. re: souvenir

                Unfortunately I'm in Australia, which greatly limits what's available - many companies based in the US or UK don't ship overseas!

                Most of the British manufacturers (Wedgwood, Doulton, etc.) are easy to get. Pillivuyt is also available. Philippe Deshoulieres isn't too hard to get online - how do they compare? Arzberg (German brand) is also sometimes available - anyone have experience with them, given that I'd probably have to get the oven-to-tableware from somewhere else? Anything else is pretty hard to find, except by ordering from overseas.

                Edit: The Denby James Martin servingware/bakeware range appears whiter than the French porcelain, although it's hard to tell from online photos. Any idea if they'll work with the Wedgwood bone china?

                1. re: souvenir

                  I have many pieces from the Bernardaud Flirt set. They are really adorable. I also have Pillvuyt's bakeware. I love them too. Pillvuyt is more rustic but not stoneware rustic, in fact the Rectangular plates I have are rather modern and streamlined in appearance. They are narrow and long, I use them to serve 3 very small appetizers.

                  1. re: mimolette

                    I have contemplated mixing in a few pieces from the Flirt pattern. I am usually a monochromatic plate person, but I really like the varied pattern elements of Flirt.

                2. I would say it depends on the style of your kitchen/home. I like a rustic country French and would go with the Pillivuy. IMO, the Wedgwood is beautiful, white dinnerware. It's gorgeous if you want that kind of look. My set of Culinary Arts porcelain dinnerware is virtually indestructible. My daughter in law bought an expensive dinnerware set and almost every dish has a chip. I can grab a handful of dishes out of the dishwasher with no damage at all.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: bakerette

                    Well, I have a small set of each and am trying to decide which line to expand into a large (24-person) set!

                    My place would probably best be described as modern-with-a-rustic-twist - think reddish-chocolate brown furniture and wood, white leather upholstery, white walls, yellow sandstone accents, with polished stainless steel and silver metal pieces. Depending on time of year, or mood, it can be accented with turquoise funishings/cushions, etc. for a 'coastal villa' feel, lilac and pale gold for a 'desert' feel, or shades of green and brown for a 'forest' feel. At the same time, the bar, some of the furniture (e.g. sofas) and many of the stainless steel accents (eg. ornamental plates, jars and vases) have an ultra-modern feel to them, despite sitting in the same display cabinet alongside Moroccan vases, antique globes, Rajput shields and central African wooden masks. Basically, I designed it as the kind of place where you could find absolutely anything without it looking out of place.

                    Which set , in your opinion, would work better in that sort of environment? IMO something in between would be really nice - pure white, without the grey-blue of French-body porcelain or the slight yellow-cream seen in some bone china, with the fine construction of bone china (or a little thicker) would be ideal; unfortunately, it doesn't exist!

                    1. re: sunrider

                      Your decor sounds like something I would love.

                      I think you can go either way but the Pillivuyt would create more of a French rustic atmosphere, IMO. To me, Wedgwood is more formal and Pillivuyt is casual.

                      I just received two pieces of Emile Henry and two Le Creuset. I was not aware of the Pillivuyt line and would love to add some of those pieces as well. For dishes, I have Culinary Arts ala carte line. They were very inexpensive when I got the 7 years ago. Still not even a scratch on them.

                      Sur La Table is having a sale on white wear

                      1. re: bakerette

                        It's basically my current inner-city apartment upscaled into a house and courtyard - construction is almost finished.

                        Re: formal vs casual - I'd say it comes down to the design of the piece more than bone china vs porcelain. Villeroy & Boch's New Wave line (including New Wave Premium, which is bone china) is definitely not formal - particularly when combined with some of the New Wave coloured glass bowls and plates, or the turquoise china from the Samarah line (which shares the same pattern as New Wave). At the same time, much of the Limoges porcelain from Haviland & Co seems pretty formal to me.

                        I'd say the Wedgwood White, Jasper Conran White and Pillivuyt Sancerre lines are pretty 'neutral' as far as formality goes - they're a pretty standard design (unlike Wedgwood Ethereal or V&B New Wave), so I guess it comes down to bone china vs porcelain - I still can't decide!

                        What's Sur La Table? I usually buy from British and continental European online stores, since American stores almost never ship internationally...

                        1. re: sunrider

                          If I HAD to pick one, now having both, I'd likely go with Wedgwood.

                          1. re: sunrider

                            I LOVE the wave pattern. Food looks so great in it

                            Sur La Table:


                            1. re: bakerette

                              Yep - not sure how long it will last, though, both in terms of durability and style. The corners on some of the pieces look like they could chip off any moment, and they look impossible to stack in a dishwasher.

                    2. I bought a porcelain dinner service instead of bone china precisely because I wanted to mix the Apilco and Pillivuyt serving pieces. My dinner service is much "finer" than Apilco and Pillivuyt but because the colour is the same, I have an abundance of serving pieces (in both Apilco and Pillivuyt). So I would suggest going to a large china store and ask to see white porcelain dinnerware (from Germany or France as the colour is an excellent match).

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: bakerette

                          Pillivuyt has the Valencay line, which is in a thinner porcelain than the other lines. There is a limited selection of pieces, though - just basic plates and cups, really.

                          1. re: sunrider

                            I had a store order this for me from France. The Valencay line is limited, but I love the plates so much. They are thinner and take up less space in the cupboard. The look more formal than the thicker Sancerre line so I feel like I can use them on formal occasions and everyday casual. I plan on matching them up with other sancerre pieces for my whole set and the color will still match because it is all Pillivuyt.

                            If you are worried about the color, you could always use light bulbs that were a warmer white versus a cooler white.