Cutlery Buying Guide

Cutlery Buying Guide

Posted By: Maxwell & Williams
Cutlery is the unsung hero of the kitchen. We use it at every meal, for cooking, serving and eating. And nothing puts the finishing touch on a table setting like the deep shine of quality silverware.

It’s important to choose a cutlery set that’s not only practical, but which also complements your style, your household and how you like to eat. We’ve put together a handy guide to selecting the right cutlery set for you, and some essential care tips to keep it shining for years to come.

Choosing the right cutlery set for you


The first consideration in your cutlery selection (as in all things) should always be quality. Stainless steel is graded on the proportions of chromium (which helps prevent corrosion, making it ‘stainless’) and nickel (which adds strength and a richer lustre). The most common grades used in cutlery are:

  • 18/0 containing at least 18% chromium and almost no nickel
  • 18/10 containing at least 18% chromium and 10% nickel

Both the Madison and Cosmopolitan ranges are 18/10 stainless steel and have a weight gauge of 2.5mm which are the more expensive and highest quality stainless steel. This means they will retain their lustre for longer and are more resistant to scratching, pitting and bending.


Equally important to consider is which configuration of Maxwell & Williams cutlery you would like.

56-piece cutlery set
Perfect for entertainers and anyone who loves to put on a dinner party or celebratory feast.
8 x entrée forks
8 x table forks
8 x entrée knives
8 x table knives
8 x dessert spoons
8 x soup spoons
8 x teaspoons 
2-piece cutlery set
The ideal set for family dinners and easy shared meals.
6 x entrée forks
6 x table forks
6 x entrée knives
6 x table knives
6 x dessert spoons
6 x soup spoons
6 x teaspoons 
16-piece cutlery set
Just the essentials, for smaller kitchens and one- or two-person households.
4 x table forks
4 x table knives
4 x dessert spoons
4 x teaspoons 

Note that all of these Maxwell & Williams cutlery sets come gift boxed, which makes them a fantastic – and very practical – gift idea.


Our two principal styles are the Cosmopolitan and Madison ranges. Both are of exceptional quality and made to the highest standards of design and manufacture.

Madison Cutlery

Madison is the more traditional of the two ranges, with a classic handle shape, elongated fork prongs and wider, flatter blades. Each Madison piece has an all-over, mirror-bright gloss finish.

Cosmopolitan Cutlery

Cosmopolitan is the more contemporary range. High-gloss blades and heads contrast with modern matte-finish handles. Delicately curved handles give Cosmopolitan unique poise on the table, and knives have slightly more ‘bite’ with deeper serration.

Cutlery accessories and must-haves

Once you’ve got your fundamental flatware sorted, it’s time to select the specialty cutlery and accessories that really define your kitchen and your table. These pieces are generally not part of a standard cutlery set, and you should choose the ones that suit your style and the food you enjoy.

Specialty knives

Cheese knives and pâté knives have specialty rounded blades for cheeses and soft spreads. Also consider a cheese and pâté set or a dip and spread set if you frequently enjoy cheese platters and pâtés or dips.

Steak knives are longer, sharper and sturdier than table knives, with a more robust grip for cutting meat.

Dessert knives are smaller than table knives, designed to be used with a dessert fork to delicately section soft desserts.

Specialty forks

Cake forks are small and have sharp, flattened tines which can be used to ‘slice’ away bite-sized portions of cakes and slices, without using a knife.

Oyster forks are small forks with three tines, curved for scooping the oyster free before picking it up with the fork.

Buffet forks are distinguished by their wide, spoon-like bowl and sharp cutting edge. They offer a versatile implement for eating a variety of foods one-handed, while holding a plate. They’re also known as sporks.

Specialty spoons

Fruit spoons feature a wide, curved bowl designed for scooping out fruit pieces.

Soda spoons, also known as parfait spoons, are long-handled teaspoons used for creamy desserts or drinks served in tall vessels.

Coffee spoons and espresso spoons are smaller and finer than teaspoons, to suit coffee and espresso cups respectively.


Salad servers are great for tossing and serving all sorts of salads. Long-handled salad forks are very versatile, or you might consider a set of close-grip salad hands for more control – and a little drama.

Serving forks allow you to serve sliced meats or individual portions easily, with prongs to keep food securely in place and a wider bowl to retain juices and sauces.

Cake servers keep your desserts intact during serving, with a flat, wedge-shaped blade that slides effortlessly underneath delicate cakes and pastries. 

Gravy ladles are smaller than soup and punch ladles, but they have the same deep bowls and long, vertical handles. Useful for serving sauces of all kinds.

Rice spoons offer a wide, gently curved scoop for serving rice and other soft grains without crushing or compacting.

Caring for your stainless-steel cutlery

With the right care, your stainless-steel cutlery will last for years. There are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure it stays in flawless condition for as long as possible.

To prevent rust spots and dulling

  • Wash your cutlery as soon as possible after use. Acidic foods and residues can gradually dull the finish.
  • Always dry your cutlery completely before you put it away. Whether it’s from the sink or the dishwasher, any moisture can encourage corrosion. Check crevices between fork tines especially carefully.

To prevent scratching and surface damage

  • Take care when washing your cutlery by hand. Wash each piece individually. Don’t use rough scouring pads or steel wool as these will scratch the steel.
  • Stack cutlery carefully if using a dishwasher. Be aware that it will move during the wash cycle, so try not to overcrowd any section of the cutlery basket to avoid scratching.
  • Store cutlery neatly, ideally stacked in compartments. The Maxwell & Williams gift box is the perfect way to keep your cutlery neat and orderly, which will help prevent it getting scratched in the drawer.

Alternatively, a cutlery tray for your drawer works equally well.

To help restore marked or dull cutlery

  • Use a stainless steel/chrome polish and a soft cloth to buff. This will help remove any marks and restore the shine of your cutlery. Try not to scrub or abrade marks to remove them – this will usually only damage the surface further.

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