Good quality cutlery comes in three main types, which are stainless steel, sterling silver and silver plated. The best stainless steel cutlery should be 18/10 as this will be hard wearing and retain its lustre. Each piece of sterling silver cutlery should be hallmarked and be of at least 92.5% pure silver. Good quality silver plated cutlery should come with a minimum of 20 years guarantee. Of course, there are many other materials which are used for the handles of table cutlery and some is more practical whilst others are more decorative. Knowing Your Budget Choosing the right cutlery for you and your family depends upon many things. The budget you have available will determine which material your cutlery is made from, so with this starting point, you can begin to narrow down what you want and need. For most every day use, a good set of stainless steel cutlery is the most practical solution as it will be hard wearing and dishwasher proof. It is important to choose cutlery that is comfortable to hold in your hands and that is nice to use. It should be of a good weight and feel substantial in your hand, so a bit of shape towards the ends should make it feel nice and make it easy to use. If your budget allows and you want a very special set of table flatware, sterling silver will set off any table. Again, it should be of a good weight and feel nice to hold and use. The pattern on the handles is very much down to personal choice and there are many traditional as well as contemporary patterns to choose from. Remember that sterling silver cutlery is often handed down in families as an heirloom, so choose a good set with this in mind. How Many Place Settings? You will also need to decide what pieces you need for each place setting. For most every day use, a full size knife and fork, dessert spoon, soup spoon, salad knife and fork, teaspoon and two or three serving spoons should suffice. To this you could add a fish knife and fork, steak knife, coffee spoon, grapefruit spoon and cake fork. Indeed there will be other pieces that you may think of to add to your collection and if it is your intention to build your collection over time, do take care to choose a pattern which is going to be readily available in the future. This is where the classic designs come into their own, they are always available whereas some of the more modern designs are either limited editions or go out of fashion. Also, a pattern which looks very modern and trendy today could look very outdated in a few years time so do choose carefully. Remember that your cutlery should last for a very long time and will be used virtually every day. Whatever you choose, always buy the best that you can afford as it will last the longest and will retain its quality over the years.