Shopping for Flatware

More than just a tool set for eating, flatware helps set the stage for a meal.

“Flatware is part of the overall look of the table,” said Yifat Oren, an event designer based in Los Angeles. And as such, it helps strike the right note at dinner parties, from casual get-togethers to formal celebrations.

But, yes, your knives, forks and spoons are also tools. So when you’re choosing them, you need to consider more than just looks.

Ms. Oren, for instance, likes utensils that have some heft. “I don’t like eating with flatware that is too light,” she said.

She also looks for handles that are easy to hold. “Some of the modern ones are very narrow and thin, which actually makes them difficult to eat with,” she said.

That’s why it’s so difficult to beat a high-quality set of flatware with simple, classic shapes and a silvery finish, she noted: “I like flatware I can dress any way I want, and that will work with any sort of table.”

  • What’s the best material for flatware? For most occasions, “I do like silver or stainless steel,” Ms. Oren said. But for special events, she sometimes considers utensils with resin handles or a colored metal finish.

  • Does all your flatware need to match? “No, I love to mix and match,” said Ms. Oren, who collects mismatched silver utensils at flea markets.

  • Should each place setting have a full set of flatware? Not necessarily. “If it’s a casual dinner, I sometimes put a caddy right on the table with the silverware in it,” she said, so guests can choose which implements they want to use.

Twenty-piece stainless-steel flatware set (four place settings)

$70 at Dansk:

Stainless-steel flatware from Italy, in a range of finishes

From $84 a set at Food52:

Flatware with resin handles from France

$75 a set at March: 415-931-7433 or

Patinated stainless-steel flatware, made in the United States

$85 a set at Farmhouse Pottery: 802-457-7486 or

Mirror-polished stainless-steel Art Deco flatware, designed in 1926

$99 a set at Georg Jensen: 800-546-5253 or

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