What are the best UK brands for handcrafted ceramic dinnerware?

12 June 2024

When it comes to setting a place at the dinner table, the choice of dinnerware is equally as important as the food you serve. A beautifully set table with exquisite plates and bowls can create an inviting atmosphere, making the meal more enjoyable. We know the choices can seem infinite, from vibrant patterns to simple white dinnerware, and from a myriad of materials such as china or stoneware.

In this article, we'll guide you through the best UK brands offering handcrafted ceramic dinnerware. We'll factor in their craftsmanship, product range, including the number of pieces in a set, the aesthetic appeal, and of course, their price. You'll also be pleasantly surprised to find out that most of these brands offer dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe products, making them not only beautiful but practical.

Denby Pottery: Timeless Stoneware

Denby Pottery stands tall amongst the UK’s ceramic industry, boasting more than two centuries of expertise. Best known for their durable stoneware, Denby offers dinnerware that is chip-resistant and safe for use in the oven, dishwasher, and microwave.

Their collections vary from minimalistic white pieces to richly glazed, colourful designs, all handcrafted in their Derbyshire factory. A typical dinnerware set includes plates, bowls, and mugs, with the price range for a 12-piece set typically falling between £100-£200. The Halo collection, with its two-tone effect, is a customer favourite, offering a unique touch to any dinner table.

Emma Bridgewater: Quintessentially British

Emma Bridgewater, a household name in the UK, is famous for its distinctive, hand-painted designs, including the iconic Polka Dot range. Founded in 1985, this brand adds a touch of British charm to any dinner collection.

The brand's ceramic dinnerware is manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, also known as The Potteries, with each piece of pottery going through a 30-step process. All products are dishwasher and microwave safe, allowing for easy cleaning and serving. A dinnerware set typically includes a dinner plate, a side plate, a cereal bowl, and a mug. Prices can range from £70 for a four-piece set to £150 for a 16-piece set.

Burleigh Pottery: Centuries-old Craftsmanship

Burleigh Pottery, established in 1851, prides itself on creating pieces that truly stand the test of time. Using a centuries-old technique known as tissue transfer printing, patterns are applied by hand to the white earthenware, a unique aspect that sets Burleigh apart.

Their range of dinnerware includes dinner plates, side plates, salad plates, cups and saucers, and various types of bowls. Prices can range from £80 for a small bowl to £130 for a dinner plate. Despite their intricate designs, all Burleigh products are dishwasher and microwave-safe.

Portmeirion: A Fusion of Style and Functionality

Founded in 1960, Portmeirion offers a broad spectrum of patterns and designs, from botanical prints to minimalistic white ceramic pieces. Their Botanic Garden collection is particularly well-loved, featuring a variety of stunning floral designs.

Portmeirion’s dinnerware ranges are made from either earthenware or fine china, both of which are safe to use in the dishwasher, microwave, oven, and freezer. A standard 12-piece set includes dinner plates, side plates, and bowls, with prices generally falling between £50-£150.

Royal Stafford: Excellence in Bone China

Royal Stafford is renowned for its exceptional bone china dinnerware. Operating from one of the world's oldest pottery sites, The Potteries, they have perfected the art of creating lightweight, yet durable, dinnerware.

Their dinnerware sets are generally composed of dinner plates, salad plates, bread and butter plates, teacups, and saucers, available as individual pieces or in 20-piece sets. Prices vary widely depending on the collection and the number of pieces in the set, but a typical 20-piece set falls in the range of £100-£300. It's worth noting that all of Royal Stafford's products are fully dishwasher and microwave-safe.

These brands, each with their unique appeal and distinctive designs, represent the pinnacle of British craftsmanship in ceramic dinnerware. Whether you're looking for the rustic stoneware of Denby, the charming designs of Emma Bridgewater, the timeless quality of Burleigh, the variety of Portmeirion, or the excellence in bone china from Royal Stafford, the UK offers an abundance of options.

East Fork: Hand-thrown, Hand-glazed Pots

East Fork, even though not a UK brand, deserves a special mention for its exceptional craftsmanship in ceramic dinnerware. Based in the US, East Fork creates pottery that is simple, functional, and timeless. Their collection, hand-thrown and hand-glazed, ranges from dinner plates to bowls, all of which are dishwasher and microwave safe.

The brand's signature style is minimalistic, with a focus on earthy tones. The material used is stoneware clay, known for its durability and chip-resistance. A typical dinner set from East Fork usually includes dinner plates, small plates, and soup bowls. The regular price for a four-piece set starts at around £100, but they often have sales where the price can drop significantly.

One standout collection from East Fork is the Jono Pandolfi line. Jono Pandolfi, a renowned American ceramicist, is known for his modern, utilitarian designs. His dinnerware sets, characterized by their dark brown rims and sandy, neutral base, offer a unique aesthetic that can complement any table setting.

British Studio Pottery: Sourcing Sustainably and Locally

When it comes to sustainable and locally sourced ceramic dinnerware, British Studio Pottery is the brand to look out for. They have been acclaimed for their commitment to using only British clay and glazes, sourced within a 50-mile radius of their studio.

Their dinnerware range is hand-thrown and hand-fired, providing each piece with a unique character. The collection consists of dinner plates, side plates, soup bowls, and mugs, all of which are safe for use in the microwave and dishwasher.

A typical dinnerware set from British Studio Pottery includes four pieces: a dinner plate, a side plate, a cereal bowl, and a mug. Prices generally range from £60 for a four-piece set to £200 for a 20-piece set. The brand also occasionally offers sales, where you may be able to snag a complete set for a significantly reduced sale price.


Choosing the right dinnerware is an important part of setting the mood for a meal. Whether it's for a family dinner or a special occasion, the right dishes can add a touch of sophistication and style.

The UK is home to a wealth of ceramic dinnerware brands, each with their own unique style, design, and history. From the timeless stoneware of Denby to the quintessentially British charm of Emma Bridgewater, the intricate designs of Burleigh, the varied patterns of Portmeirion, the bone china excellence of Royal Stafford, to the sustainable sourcing of British Studio Pottery, there is something for everyone.

All these brands offer high-quality, handcrafted ceramic dinnerware that is not only beautifully designed but also practical, being both dishwasher and microwave safe. So, whether you're looking for a complete dinnerware set or just a few key pieces, you're sure to find something that suits your needs and tastes, at a variety of price points. Remember, a good dinner set is an investment that, if chosen wisely, can last for years to come.

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