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Mar 23, 2011 04:36 PM

Who eats using sterling silver flatware at home each and every day?

The people I know (relatives) who have sterling silver flatware never seem to use it, saving it for "special" occasions. My brother in law also bragged about his mother's sterling silver flatware set that she inherited and "never uses".

Do any chowhounders eat with sterling silver knives forks etc. on a daily basis?

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  1. Yes, we do, always.

    1. aggh I thought of mine this morning that I used last on Thanksgiving, I should use it more but ................

      1. We don't use sterling every day, but at least twice a week when the family eats dinner together. The sterling is in silver drawers in the dining room and the bult in server has dishwasher drawers to do the sterling. So it never leaves the dining room for the kitchen. Silver will dull and turn gray if washed in the same dishwasher load with stainless so we keep it separate.

        That said, I can taste stainless steel utensils, my teeth are sensitive ti them, just as they react to food or chocholate that has been wrapped in aluminum foil, so for everyday we use silverplate.

        I love silver and was fortunate to inherit from parents and grandparents on both sides of the family and also bought it years ago when it was affordable. I also don't mind polishing it as I find it theraputic.........

        26 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          "the built in server has dishwasher drawers to do the sterling."

          You have a separate drawer-type dishwasher in your dining room for silver?
          NICE !!!!!!!!! Or does the server have some kind of drawers you then insert in a kitchen dishwasher? IMWTK

          1. re: Midlife

            My wife is a designer<VBG>, so when we built the dining room addition, we have a marble topped serving counter the length of the room that has the following appliances built in (under the counter):
            Wine Cooler
            2 Drawer Type dishwashers (1 for silver, 1 for glassware)
            2 Warming Drawers
            Ice Maker

            1. re: bagelman01

              Do you notice that is getting "discolored"? Any special dishwasher detergent used?

              1. re: sedimental

                No problem with discoloration if NO stainless stell items are also in the dishwasher. That's one of the reasons I wanted this. No more hand washing the silver.
                We use Palmolive ECO

                1. re: sedimental

                  I never put my sterling in the dishwasher. Over time it will develop a greyish color you cannot remove with polish.

                  1. re: Montanamom

                    Dishwasher detergents are harsh for silver and will ruin the finish. Boiling silver with xx subtance in the water, or in an aluminum pan, or dipping silver in liquid cleaner, will permanently ruin the finish. Leaving silver in a salty substance like gravy will ruin the finish. Letting salt or salty nuts sit in a silver dish will ruin the finish. Letting cream sit in silver will ruin the finish, which is why good silver cream pitchers have a gilt-washed lining. I have never known anyone who insisted on being casual with sterling silver who did not end up with ruined silver.

                    1. re: Querencia

                      I often eat holiday dinners with my rabbi's family. His mother had given them a full set of Reed & Barton Francis 1 when they got married. Last week I took a look at the bowls of the spoons and they were pitted and had not so fine grooves in them. The whole setting had no luster or patina. I can only imagine them being assaulted weekly in a dishwasher and never polished. Oy vey!

                      My own Prelude is only hand washed and dried. I also have lots of odd silver plate pieces that I find at estate sales and thrift stores.

                      1. re: Kate is always hungry

                        My pattern is also Prelude, as was my Aunt's. I have a new appreciation for it and enjoy using it every day, even if we have plates on our laps in front of the TV watching Downton Abbey.

                        1. re: Kate is always hungry

                          francs 1st. oh, this makes me weep.

                          i do wish they would make Francis 1st in stainless. i would be first on line. alas i sold my francis 1st ten years ago.

                      2. re: Montanamom

                        Mom put it in the dishwasher for 20 years, and since her death 16 years ago, it goes in my dishwasher. It looks fine! She used to make sure it was polished with Haggardy [sp] polish once a year. So I've kept up the tradition and have it polished before it goes out on the table for thanksgiving meal when the relatives are at the house. I do try to be careful not to mix it in the dishwasher and don't put it with stainless, or kitchen knives. I make sure to keep all the silver together.

                    2. re: bagelman01

                      All I can say is to repeat...............NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I assume you do a lot of entertaining.................... or that she can write that stuff off? Most people don't go to the extent of plumbing in their dining room, even in an addition.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        Use the formal dining room about 2x per week. It was simple and relatively inexpensive to plumb, right up through the floor from the basement. Plumbing cost including material was less than $250.

                        When we married, I moved into wife's home. There was no formal dining room, she had designed a huge kitchen that sat 12 in one area. I had always had a formal dining room and pushed for the addition. I don't like having guests eat in the kitchen with smells, noise, accumukating dirty pots.pans dishes, etc.. So we had an existing patio off the kitchen and built out.
                        Spent a lot of time discussing what we wanted and planned for it. I always had a more formal home and had inherited much silver, china and crystal which I like on display (and to use). Wife loves pottery and modern glass. So, Kitchen is modern, dining room is formal with more than enough caninet display space for my treasures. I do all the silver polishing <VBG>, very cathartic.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          Again................... NICE!!! ;o]]]]]]]]]]

                          In California most of us don't have basements. Usually homes are built on concrete slabs, so adding plumbing is a bigger deal. Even tying into existing drains, or running new ones, is more of an issue.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Plus your douche of an 18 year old (love the kid to death, don't get me wrong) is lazy and doesn't look in the drain and turns on the garbage disposal, saying "my bad" after ruining 3 pieces in one stroke. Then you look online for replacements and they are anywhere from $60.00 to $90.00 per piece unless you want to buy them in a three pack and you save... Price is still 69.99 and 99.99 but you have 2 extra when he does it again... I've decided on those nights, I'll handwash, since my china is Noratake and has the titanium rim and inset. It has a beautiful pattern with the titanium and they like to just trow stuff in the dishwasher (although it's new) my last set of bone china was just ruined by the dishwasher and a thoughtless mother (believe it or not). Sorry about the rant!!!!

                            1. re: Rg916

                              Your rant is perfectly understandable. Our 18 year old (as of Saturday) is an angel in the kitchen, but has managed to crack 2 $600 rims on my Jaguar and run flat the tires while leaving the local Starbuck's this fall.
                              Too much music, iPod, iPhone distracting the youngsters.

                              Yesterday, it was 3 degrees here in CT, with snow and winds causing a wind chill of Minus 16 F. A local estate was being liquidated by professionals by court order and it was the last day of the sale. I decided to brave the weather and take a ride. I was the only potential customer for the 10 am auction session.

                              I walked out with service for 8 in the International Silver Prelude sterling pattern for the opening and only bid of $50. The Probate Court had not instructed the company to set any reserves.

                              I don't need any more sterling, but I have daughters, so if one of them likes the pattern, it will be hers, if not--Hello eBay

                              1. re: Rg916

                                and always count the silver after a dinner party because uncle ed always throws the silver into the trash can.

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        "Silver will dull and turn gray if washed in the same dishwasher load with stainless so we keep it separate."

                        This is why my parents switched to full-time sterling. Growing up we used stainless for everyday and their wedding sterling for special occasions. My mom started picking up more sterling at antique fairs, mainly because it was pretty, but realized if she used nothing but sterling she wouldn't have to wash it all by hand...So the stainless got dumped and it's all sterling all the time at their house. They have probably 2.5 sets now, with about 15 extra teaspoons since we're all big coffee drinkers.

                        1. re: thursday

                          The problem crops up when kitchen utensils which are stainless make their way into the dishwasher with the flatware.
                          We solved this when building our new dining room. The buffet has both silverware drawers lined with Pacific Silver cloth, and two dishwasher drawers which are used for sterling and crystal only. That way, the sterling never gets mixed with non-sterling in the full sized dishwasher, and the crystal never has to travel from dining room to kitchen.

                        2. re: bagelman01

                          Ah, I started a forum on here concerning stainless steel alternatives recently because I too can taste the steel. It's mightily unpleasant to me. I've been seeking flatware alternatives for awhile now. I've made do with asian style ceramic spoons, chopsticks and bamboo, but I've been pining for something for functional and for everyday use. I'd love to have silver! Would say that the price and added maitanance make it a worthwhile investment?

                          1. re: spection

                            You should buy a few piecves of used silverplate at a Goodwill or thrift shop and see how you react. It will be very cheap.

                            If silverplate works for you, you can find complete sets of mid century Oneida/Community patterns on eBay for less than $100.

                            Even used sterling will cost more than that per 4pc setting.
                            Worth the investment? A personal decision, but I think so.

                            1. re: spection

                              I once was struck with this kind of observation when a funeral repast wares held for a great aunt... the table was laid with plastic and paper right next to her beautiful china cabinet filled to the brim! I guess no one wants to do dishes for you, even after you;re dead!

                              1. re: betsydiver

                                People miss out on the finer things of life, then they die. So sad.

                                1. re: law_doc89

                                  exactly what mom said. Why was she keeping the silver for people to use it, or throw it out after she died. USE IT!

                              2. re: spection

                                Silver is very cheap, commodity price lowest in years, and you can buy used for below scrap. It will last forever if kept out of the disposal, so, unless truly poor, you are making a choice.

                                1. re: spection

                                  The real challenge is how big of a set, and how many serving pieces? The thing utilitarians forget: life is fun, if you can get away with it.

                                2. re: bagelman01

                                  I never allow aluminum foil to touch food. I use parchment paper all of the time. Frankly, I do not understand why I see chefs on TV using it so much.

                                3. Now I use sterling every day. I used to reserve it for those once-a-year special occasions, but of course it would need to be polished before use and that on top of all the other work needed for those special occasions was too much work. And I discovered that it's better to use sterling regularly - for some reason daily use and washing minimizes the need for polishing. And when it does need polishing, far less effort is required.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: janniecooks

                                    Yep. I throw it all in the dishwasher, which is fine, as long as it doesn't touch the stainless. The spoons, which are used daily, are much cleaner looking than the rest of the utensils, which are used monthly (or more often when all the stainless is dirty.)

                                  2. Only the finest stainless steel is used at Rancho Biscuitboy...besides, isn't ALL silver flatware just plated?

                                    29 Replies
                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      Sterling silver is .925 silver with a .075 additive, usually copper. It will last virtually forever and has a high monetary value.

                                      Silver plate is simply a thin surface coating, life is about 20 years, and has very little intrinsic value.

                                      To the OP: In our house we bounce between wooden handled "bistro-style" flatware and heavy sterling silverware. We don't use the sterling every day but use it frequently, not just for special occasions. What stainless I do have I use in the kitchen as adjunct preping/cooking/tasting utensils.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I dream of having a real sterling set someday.

                                        I have my grandmother's silver plate set and the plating is worn off the forks and I don't like the taste of the metal.

                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                          I can't imagine buying a set of sterling new, but you can buy it in bits and pieces at antiques shops for a lot less money.

                                          1. re: Isolda

                                            I can't imagine doing this now, either. There is really nice stainless out there. But sterling is forever, if it is taken care of.

                                            1. re: Isolda

                                              I agree and having a mis-matched set makes a table setting unique and truly glorious. I wish I had the foresight to have done that when I started out.

                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                I bought a full set of sterling for 12 this year on eBay. I think the supply of beautiful full sets of silver, old and new, is so great (there's a recession and people need money) and the demand is so weak (most young people getting married do not register for sterling) that the market dictates that the price be very low. When I search for sterling flatware, at any given time there are about 60,000 items for sale on eBay. So really nice stuff, with just a couple exceptions, goes for just above or just below the scrap value. It's insane. I got 6 pieces each of 12 place settings of my pattern for under $2000. I paid $475 a place setting for the exact same stuff in the early 1980's. If you want sterling, this is a good time to buy. I use mine once or twice a week, when we have company. I didn't know I could put it in the dishwasher, thank you for that.

                                                1. re: runwestierun

                                                  i wouldn't put it in the dishwasher no matter what, especially on the pre-1960 stuff .

                                                  there is a wooden core inside the knives. think about putting wood into the dishwasher. you will end up with rattly, wobbly knives.

                                                  1. re: ladykemma2

                                                    Many of the knife handles are hollow, no wooden core.
                                                    My Manchester Silver Sterling (Collonade Pattern) from 1944) has been washed in the dishwasher since 1958. No problems as long as no stainless in the load.

                                                2. re: Isolda

                                                  Estate sales often have sets of sterling flatware and usually on the last day everything goes at half-price. If you live in the vicinity of a big city try googling "estate sales *** (name of city)" to find out when and where they are happening.

                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                    We live in the 'burbs where there's a lot of elderly residents, and Mr. Pine calls these estate sales (every week within a 3 mile radius) "vulture sales." I have to drag him in, if he's willing to go at all--it is kinda sad, seeing some of the very personal items for sale, but it didn't stop me from recently buying a great painting for $20.

                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                      Mr. Pine does not realize that some people need the money and others do not care about what they have inherited. These special items can be loved and enjoyed by others and the precious energy the previous owners imbued, continued.

                                                3. re: cleobeach

                                                  If you like your silverplate set well enough to do it, you can have it replated. I didn't know that anyone still produced silverplate but Reed & Barton still does.


                                                  Guaranteed for 100 years!

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    I spoke to two companies about replating but it was expensive. The one owner said right out "keep you eye on auctions and buy an estate set, your grandmother would say it was a better value."

                                                    I think I was quoted $140 per set plus return shipping. A new Lunt sterling set goes for $395.

                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                      This is good to know. I have this massive silverplate platter with my monogram from my first marriage, and I was thinking of having it replated. Now I don't think I'll bother. That whole chapter of my life was a waste!

                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        I think you might find a firm closer to you to do the work, if you live in a decent sized city. I don't think $140 is all that bad for a 10 place setting set. If the owner told you to keep an eye out for auctions, then he doesn't want to be bothered with your job. At least that is my interpretation.

                                                        If you are sentimentally attached to your service, then it might be worth it to you to have it replated.

                                                        For really good info about silver, I recommend this site:


                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          I live in the middle of nowhere!

                                                          It very well may have been too small of a job for him but he was actually quite helpful and we chatted on the phone for a considerable amount of time. He suggested the auction route after I said I didn't really like the pattern and would likely give it to a cousin when she married.

                                                          I think that price was for a 5 piece setting. It has been a couple months since I looked into it.

                                                          I will check out that link, thanks.

                                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                                            Oh! ouch. That price was for 5 pcs? I assumed it was for your set. Big difference.

                                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                                        Replating is very expensive. You can buy second-hand sterling for about the same money. Old plated ware is worthless---does not hold its value. Old sterling just gets more valuable. Silver made in the United States since 1860 must by law be marked STERLING. If it's made in the United Kingdom it has a set of very specific pictorial marks, letters, and numbers that you can find online. If it's Continental, each country has its own hallmarks. Otherwise, it is not sterling no matter what somebody tells you.

                                                      3. re: cleobeach

                                                        Most of the sterling place settings and serving pieces were wedding presents. I have added various pieces over the years and now have enough PSs to serve 14 with double the amount of dessert/salad forks. Along with the china and crystal they make any dinner something special...

                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                          Shop for sterling silver at estate sales. Go to estate sales. net for sales in your area--- weekly listings, with photographs.

                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                            Thanks for that site--seems there's a sale near me this weekend that has some really nice looking items.

                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                          never knew a fork could be solid silver...I gotta take a closer look at my grandmother's set

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            Take another look at your grandmother's set. You may just be surprised. BTW: dinner knives have a stainless steel blade but have a sterling handle. Butter knives are all sterling.

                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                              It's typically imprinted with the word Sterling on the underside.

                                                              1. re: masha

                                                                Most sterling has a Hallmark that identifies the maker and approximately when it was manufactured. Silverplate doesn't. If it's imprinted ".925" it's usually Mexican silver - not quite sterling, but close. YMMV.

                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                  .925 is sterling standard and Mexican silver marked 925 has the same silver content as American sterling---some Mexican silver is extremely collectible and valuable---check out Spratling jewelry for prices. Hallmarks are not used on American silver, which says STERLING if it's made since 1860. Hallmarks are used on British and Continental silver. You can learn about hallmarks online (a British piece will have the lion passant to show it's sterling, a date letter, a symbol of the city where its maker entered his mark, and possibly the initials of the maker). Common words used on plated ware are A-1 and EPNS (electro-plated nickel silver). "German silver" has a much lower silver content than sterling. Many flea market and second-hand dealers have no clue or are outright liars and I have known American auctioneers to fail to recognize that a good piece of British Georgian silver was actually silver---I can't count the dealers I have hornswoggled into a low price because a British piece didn't say Sterling so they thought it wasn't. Educate yourself. Silver is fascinating.

                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                    If sterling silver was made in the United States after 1860 it says "Sterling" or it isn't. American silver is not hallmarked. British and European silver is hallmarked. A full British hallmark shows the sterling mark (the "lion passant", sideways view of a lion with his paw raised), the town mark (Leopard's Head for London, anchor for Birmingham, crown for Sheffield etc---see online or buy a marks book), the date mark (letter of the alphabet, see online or a marks book), and the maker's mark. Mexican silver says 925. Continental hallmarks are complicated: see book. Also, 925 IS sterling---sterling standard is 925 parts silver out of 1000 parts.