I’ve always been a little confused about the difference in the terms “ceramic” and “porcelain”. It seems to be an interchangeable (or sometimes combined) word for figurines although most people perceive porcelain as being higher quality. After much researching I’ve discovered various differences between them. Without getting into the technical and scientific facts of the types of clays, firing temperatures, etc., here are a few easy ways to determine the type of ceramic….
- The category “ceramic” includes pottery, bone china, earthenware and porcelain.
- Porcelain originated in China and derives its current name from porcellana, an old italian word for “cowrie shell” because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell
- Porcelain is made with light colors of clay minerals and fired at a high temperature giving it a glossy, glass like quality.
- Tap a porcelain figure and you’ll hear a bell-like ring while the ceramic figure will make a dull sound.
- The surface of porcelain is fine and smooth, not grainy like other types of ceramics.
- Ceramic is very opaque, while porcelain is translucent. Hold your figurine up to a light and move your finger behind the item. You should be able to see a slight shadow of your finger if it is porcelain.
In reading this it sounds like porcelain figurines are much more desirable than ceramics. But in fact, the important thing to remember is to purchase what YOU like and will enjoy viewing and collecting during the years. That is the true value of a figurine.
Check out the pictures below. Tell me which one you think is porcelain and which is ceramic. (clicking on the pictures will take you to my website where you will find out the answer).