Table settings are being re-made and re-invigorated with the fairly recent introduction of ‘new bone china’. Companies like Australian homewares label, Ashdene, are combining bold and fresh designs with contemporary materials like new bone china to enliven everyday living.
New bone china is set apart from its traditional counterpart by the added component of calcium oxide instead of bone ash, which is what makes ‘fine bone china’. Although not as light or as translucent as fine bone china, the calcium oxide in new bone china makes it whiter, finer, and more durable than standard porcelain/fine china.
Bone ash used in bone china stems from the bones of cows or oxen, and to a much lesser extent, pigs. When mixed with other porcelain components, bone ash gives fine bone china its translucency and strength. Very high quality fine bone china may contain around 30 percent bone ash with exceptional pieces containing up to 45 percent.
In tableware, the use of fine bone china has been an indication of quality and prestige since its initial development in the 1700s. At first exclusively English, the production of bone china then took off in the 20th century in other countries like Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Iran. With this prevalent manufacturing of bone china of course came the varying levels of quality, and price tags to match.
In the past few years the cost of bone ash in China has risen astronomically. This is due to bone ash now also being utilised in Chinese cosmetics (particularly foundation). Consequently, the cosmetics industry is prepared to pay much more for precious bone ash over the china manufacturers to ensure supply. This is perhaps one of the main reasons the more economical new bone china is more evident in tableware these days. Furthermore, the absence of animal product also makes new bone china a more vegetarian friendly option for conscious consumers who would like something similar to the look of bone china.
When shopping for teapots and teacups, new bone china measures up to be an inexpensive, attractive, and sturdy option. With the added adornment of new gorgeous designs, these pieces are a beautifully modern take on centuries of porcelain tradition.
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