Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Here's your guide to understanding all the different terms and pieces of sterling silver.


Acid Etching:  A method of customizing a product with an emblem, a logo or a seal, etched into an item by transferring a tissue lifting of a logo from a steel engraving plate. A wax resin then surrounds the remaining impression. Acid is applied to the impression area that eats away at the non–resin-exposed areas. The resin is then moved and cleaned, and a permanent etching is left.

All-Purpose, X-Large:  Ideal tool for a variety of serving tasks.

Applied Border:  A cast or a rolled border design soldered onto a piece of hollow ware.

Asparagus Server:  A hollow handle serving piece designed for serving bunches of long fresh vegetables, including asparagus, zucchini, celery, and carrot sticks.

Asparagus Tongs, Individual:  Ideal for small servings of asparagus, zucchini, and eggplant. Also for individual place settings.



Baby Pusher:  Special eating utensil designed to ease a baby's transition from hand to fork/spoon. Used to push the soft food together to make it easier to pick up.

Baby Spoon:  Smaller-sized spoon tailored for a baby (12–24 months).

Bar Knife:  Citrus fruit slicer with a lightly serrated blade featuring a forked tip end with a bottle opener/cap lifter on the blade.

Bonbon/Nut Spoon:  Perfect utensil for serving small bonbons and nuts.

Bottle Opener:  Versatile bottle-opening utensil.

Britannia Metal:  A silver-like alloy of tin, antimony and copper first used in 1770. When used as a base metal for electroplating, it is referred to as E.P.B.M.

Bronze Castings:  An Old-World art. Hollow fittings are made by a craftsperson who pours molten metal into bronze molds of fittings, handles, feet, finials, spouts, candleholders, etc.

"Butler" Finish:  A mellow surface luster, originally the result of years of hand rubbing by English butlers. Today this luster is imitated by applying a revolving wire wheel to a silver product.

Butter Pick:  Designed to serve individual plain or flavored butter balls or pats.

Butter Serving Knife:  A smaller knife with a heavy handle that is ideal for spreading butter, also known as a Master Butter Serving Knife.

Butter Spreader:  Ideal utensil for use with specialty butter spreads and pâtés. Features a hollow handle.

Butter Spreader, Flat Handle:  Butter spreader that features a heavier handle of solid sterling silver.

Butter Spreader, Hollow Handle:  Ideal for specialty butter spreads and patés. Features a rounded hollow handle.

Butter Spreader, Paddle Blade:  Butter spreader with a wide blade ideal for spreads and pâtés.



Cake Breaker:  Used for cutting and serving angel food cake.

Cake Fork:  Ideal eating utensil for desserts.

Cake Knife:  Used for cutting cakes and pastries. Features a long, wide serrated blade with a rounded tip.

Cake Serving Fork:  Ideal utensil for serving desserts.

Cap Lifter:  Versatile utensil for bottle opening, also know as a Bottle Opener.

Chasing:  Decorating in high or low relief, achieved by the use of tools that push the surface of the metal into patterns. In chasing, no metal is removed.

Cheese Cleaver:  Ideal slicing tool for large blocks of cheese.

Cheese Grater:  Perfect tool for grating fresh cheeses.

Cheese Scoop:  Ideal for serving soft cheese spreads.

Cheese Server:  Appropriate utensil for serving most cheeses.

Child Fork:  Fork sized for a child's easy use.

Child Knife:  Knife sized for a child's easy use.

Child Spoon:  Spoon sized for a child's easy use.

Chocolate Spoon:  For drizzling and serving all kinds of chocolate, including hot fudge and melted white chocolate.

Coffee Scoop:  Perfect utensil for measuring the freshest-ground coffee.

Coin Silver:  Metal made from melted coins, used to make hollow ware in the pre–Civil War United States. These coins were made of silver assayed at 900 parts pure silver to every 1,000 parts—25 parts lower than the sterling silver standard.

Cold Meat Fork:  Essential for use with party platters featuring cold meats and cheeses.

Cracker Scoop:  Perfect for serving oyster crackers for soups and salads.

Cranberry, X-Large Spoon:  Server with a larger size and heavier weight than a tomato/cranberry server.

Cream/Sauce Ladle:  Ideal tool for serving hearty soups and chowders.

Cream Soup Spoon:  A necessary eating utensil for soups and stews.

Cut-Card:  A decorative technique similar to appliqué work in sewing. Thin sheets of silver are cut into patterns and then applied as ornamentation.



Demitasse Spoon:  Ideal for use with coffee and tea, and other after-dinner refreshments.

Dessert/Oval Spoon:  Essential eating utensil for puddings, ice cream cakes and other soft desserts.

Dessert Server:  Essential for serving most desserts, including cakes, pies and pastries.

Die Cutting or Sinking:  Process by which a master pattern is reproduced in steel to form a die from which an identical article of a softer metal can be stamped out.

Dinner Fork:  All-purpose eating utensil for solid foods.

Dinner Fork, Continental Size:  Has a larger size and a heavier weight than the standard dinner fork.

Dinner Knife:  All-purpose cutting utensil.

Dinner Knife, Continental Size:  Based on larger European sizing and heavier weight than the standard dinner knives.

Dinner Knife, Old-Style Blade:  Features a longer blade than a standard dinner knife.

Double Jigger:  Vessel for measuring liquor for mixed drinks. Available in 2 sizes.



Electroplate:  Process in which base metals are coated with pure silver; electrical currents pass through a plating bath that deposits the silver on the base metal.

Embossing:  Decorating process that involves working on the back of a piece in relief to expose the design on the front.

Engraving:  Designs achieved by cutting a metal surface with sharp tools, called "gravers," which remove small amounts of metal.



Final Finish:  Very precise hand-polishing step that affords a smooth satin finish or a bright mirror finish to the metal. All final polishing is stroked in the direction of the metal's grain.

Fish Fork:  Eating utensil specially designed for grilled, baked, or fried fish.

Fish Knife:  Ideal utensil for cutting delicate fish.

Fish Serving Knife:  Essential for serving all types of fish.

Flat/Lasagna/Kugel Server:  A large, rectangular flat server perfect for serving lasagna, raviolis, and casseroles.

Flatware Banking:  Another form of pressing and cutting a thick slab of metal into rough form. Subsequent additional hammer drops define the flatware before rough and finial finishing.

Fruit Knife:  An excellent slicing tool for fruits and vegetables.



Grapefruit Spoon:  An eating utensil specially designed for grapefruit.

Gravy Ladle:  A serving tool for gravies and sauces.

Gilding:  The art of applying metal leaf, most commonly gold or silver leaf to a surface.



Hammered Finish:  An uneven finish, often achieved by hammering nail head shaped tools to the metal.

Hand Spinning:  The process in which craftpersons called "spinners" actually pull metal over a form to achieve precise curves and contours; a force of up to 900 pounds of leverage is sometimes required.

Hooded Asparagus Server:  An ideal tool for serving bunches of fresh asparagus.



Ice Cream Fork:  Perfect eating utensil for ice cream cakes and frozen desserts.

Ice Cream Scoop:  The perfect tool for serving sherbet, ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Ice Cream Slicer:  Ideal for slicing ice cream cakes as well as custard-filled cakes and pies.

Iced Beverage Spoon:  Specifically designed spoon for use with tall glasses.

Ice Scoop:  The proper way to scoop ice.

Ice Tongs:  For serving and picking single ice cubes.

Individual Steak Knife:  Ideal cutting utensil for steak, ham, or turkey. Features a stainless steel serrated blade with a sterling silver rounded hollow handle.

Infant Feeding Spoon:  Spoon tailored for an infant (3 – 6 months). Features a small bowl with a long slender handle.



Jelly Server:  A spoon used to serve jams and jellies.



Large Cheese Scoop:  A hollow handle serving piece for large rounds of Stilton cheese; also useful for soft cheese spreads, fondue cheeses, and shredded cheeses.

Large Serving Fork, X-Large:  Excellent for serving meats, poultry and cold cuts.

Lemon/Cheese Server:  Designed for serving small wedges of lemon, lime and cheese.

Lemon Fork:  Used for serving lemon wedges.

Lettuce Fork:  Designed with wide-spread tongs for serving leafy greens.

Long-Handled Olive Fork:  Perfect serving utensil for larger olives, including Greek and marinated olives.

Luncheon Knife:  see Place Knife.



Macaroni Server:  Utensil that serves equally well at pasta dishes, including spaghetti, baked ziti, and pasta salads.

Master Butter Knife:  A larger knife used to cut and spread butters.

Meat Serving Fork:  Used for serving meats, poultry and tenderloin slices.

Mustard Ladle:  Ideal serving utensil for special mustard condiments.



Napkin Clip:  A handy clip that's a wonderful way to hold a napkin in place.

Nickel Silver:  A metal composition of copper, nickel and zinc. When used as a base metal for electroplating, it is referred to as E.P.N.S.



Old Sheffield Plate:  Made by fusing silver to both sides of a base metal, creating a "sandwich." This method was widely used from 1765 to 1840 to produce hollow ware.

Olive/Pickle Fork:  Ideal serving utensil for use with condiment trays.

Oxidizing:  Method used to accentuate the beauty of ornamentation by applying oxide, which darkens the metal. Eventually, a natural oxidation will form on all silver as oxygen in the air reacts to metal.



Pasta Server:  A pieced spoon used to serve spaghetti, fettuccine, and fusilli.

Patina:  The special soft sheen, color and feel that develops on silver after years of use.

Pierced Serving Spoon:  Suitable for scooping vegetables and fruits. The bowl is pierced so liquid flows through the bowl to avoid excess liquid on the dinner plate.

Pierced Serving Spoon, X-Large:  A large serving spoon that can be paired with a large serving fork.

Pierced Tablespoon:  Perfect for serving foods that need to be strained.

Pie Server:  Stylishly serves seasonal pies.

Pie Server, X-Large:  A larger stylish server for pies.

Place Fork:  Slightly smaller than the dinner fork. Most popular size in America for standard placesettings.

Place Knife:  Most popular size in America. Used for cutting or spreading; also known as a luncheon knife.

Place Knife, Old-Style Blade:  Has a longer blade than a standard place knife.

Place Spoon:  Perfect eating utensil for cereal, dessert, coffee, ice cream and fruits.

Place Spoon, Continental Size:  Has a larger size and a heavier weight than a standard place spoon.

Platter Spoon:  Essential serving utensil for party platters.

Pressing:  Dies are used in hydraulic presses using as much as 150 tons of pressure to blank or cut unusual designs or geometric shapes that cannot be formed by hand-spinning.

Punch Ladle:  The correct utensil for serving punch. Features pouring spouts in each side of the bowl.



Repoussé:  Process of embossing metal from the back by hammering, then further defining the relief by chasing up from the front. Samuel Kirk introduced the repoussé style in 1828.

Rubber Mold Casting:  Casting method that uses a rubber blank onto which a design or an item is pressed to leave an impression. Molten metal is then poured in the impression while the mold is spinning at a rapid rate in a centrifuge, dispelling all excess slag metal and leaving the metal in the mold.



Salad/Berry/Casserole Spoon:  Pairs with Salad Serving Fork for serving large salads and casseroles.

Salad Fork:  Eating utensil slightly smaller than the dinner fork; ideal for a variety of salads.

Salad Serving Fork:  Pairs with the Salad Serving Spoon. Similar in shape to the Salad Serving Spoon with a forked bowl.

Salad Serving Spoon:  Pairs with the Salad Serving Fork.

Salt Spoon:  Perfect utensil for salting all entrées, often used with open salt cellars.

Sand Polishing:  A finishing process in which a felt or a leather spinning wheel removes all marks, creases and major porous openings from metal. A sand polisher uses pumice as an abrasive between the spinning wheel and the metal item.

Sardine Server:  Ideal serving utensil for small delicacies, including sardines, shrimp, and oysters.

Satin Finish:  A mellow surface luster, originally the result of years of hand rubbing by English butlers. Today this look is imitated by applying a revolving wire wheel to a silver product.

Scalloped Berry Spoon:  Scoop designed for serving fresh berries.

Serving/Rice Spoon:  All-purpose serving spoon with a wide broad serving bowl.

Serving Tongs:  Serves all kinds of long vegetables, fruits and meats that have been rolled.

Shell/Berry Spoon:  A classic way to serve blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

Soldering:  The attaching of bases, handles, fittings, bowl bodies, etc., by fusing metallic surfaces together with a soldering iron.

Soup Ladle:  Ideal for serving soups and stews.

Soup Spoon:  A spoon with a deep rounded bowl that is an ideal eating utensil for hearty soups and stews.

Steak Carving Fork:  For serving freshly carved meats and poultry.

Steak Carving Knife:  Carves steaks, turkey, tenderloins, and ham equally well.

Sterling Silver:  Often incorrectly referred to as "solid silver," sterling silver is composed of 925 parts of pure silver and 75 parts alloy, usually copper. In England, "925" is always called silver, not sterling. Each sterling silver piece should carry a sterling mark.

Strawberry Fork  Long thin tines with a smaller proportion perfect for spearing soft fruits.

Stuffing Spoon:  A hollow handle serving spoon used for stuffing or mashed potatoes.

Sugar Spoon:  Essential for adding sweeteners to coffee and tea.

Sugar Tongs:  For serving sugar cubes.



Tablespoon:  A spoon that can be used for eating hearty stews and cold or hot cereals.

Teaspoon:  Eating utensil slightly smaller than the place spoon. One of the most universal pieces, designed for tea and coffee to stir in milk and sugar.

Teaspoon, Continental Size:  Has a larger size and a heavier weight than the standard teaspoon.

Tea Strainer:  Perfect utensil for straining hot tea bags and holding loose tea.

Tomato/Cranberry Server:  Perfect tool for serving sliced cranberry and fresh tomato.

Tomato Server:  A hollow handle tool that is ideal for serving whole or sliced tomatoes or tomato wedges. A broad, flat server with a pierced design to allow liquid to remain in the serving dish.

Tripoli:  A way to hand-finish metal. This style of polishing gives a smoother finish by removing the coarse marks left behind by sand polishing.

Troy Weight:  Unit of weight employed by silversmiths: 1 pound equals 14.58 troy ounces; 1 standard ounce is 0.91 troy ounces.



Vermeil:  A combination of gold applied to sterling silver and other precious metals.