Fine bone china remains as remarkable today as it was over two hundred years ago, when the first English potters pioneered the use of bone ash in the creation of porcelain. It’s generally reckoned the legendary Staffordshire potter Josiah Spode first perfected the process of making fine bone china around 1790, by experimenting with the mix of clay and minerals used in traditional potteries to make a product that was stronger and more heat resistant.
Spode’s magic ingredient – bone ash – is an organic compound composed of calcium and phosphorus oxides, which gives the finished ceramic a similar cellular structure to animal bone. This makes the porcelain stronger and is the reason why bone china can be thinner (or finer) than traditional pottery, less prone to chips when knocked, and less likely to crack when exposed to hot liquids like tea, coffee and soup.
The term fine bone china really means extra strong and heat proof, in 19th century terminology. It is that characteristic strength and durability that also explains why it remains the material of choice for today’s high-end potteries, enabling practical tableware with beautiful shapes and complex decoration.
In our Strata range – taking a new twist on the geometric patterns popular from the art deco era of the early 20th century – we match this remarkable ceramic with a remarkable metal, platinum. Platinum isn’t just pretty to look at, it’s prized for jewellery, industrial equipment and scientific instruments, because of its high resistance to wear and tarnishing. Using platinum to decorate our fine bone china ensures the pattern won’t discolour or degrade over time, and will shrug off the worst your dishwasher – and future generations – can throw at it.
It’s worth noting that fine bone china was high tech tableware back in the 1800s, and it’s still impressively tough by modern standards, over two centuries later. Fine bone china isn’t just beautiful, it’s a traditional product, handmade by craftspeople and designed to last several lifetimes. That tradition shaped our Grant Macdonald fine bone china collection, and with a little care our luxury tableware should still be useful and decorative a hundred years – and more – from now. In fact, for fine bone china, that isn’t even particularly old.