The Difference Between Porcelain and Ceramic Antiques

When it comes to collectible antiques made of ceramic and porcelain, there are many common characteristics, including the fact that they are both fragile and charming. Porcelain and ceramic collectibles are rare, delicate and beautiful. Individuals that love collecting these items go through a lot of trouble to display these items in gorgeous cabinets and to locate them. Knowing what to look for is the first step to find the right item. Know the difference between porcelain and ceramic antiques in order to make searching for them easier.

There are many times you might hear the two terms ceramic and porcelain used interchangeably. In fact, you may even read somewhere that they are one and the same. This is untrue and is far from the true. Even if porcelain is a ceramic type, ceramic is not a type of porcelain. Just like not every kind of leather is from a cow, not all ceramics can be classified as porcelain.


Porcelain is created from a paste-like type of clay and high temperature is used for creating it. It was in the 1300s in China in which this process was mastered for the first time. This process produces a glass-like, white finish. When people from Europe first saw this, the delicate beauty of the porcelain enthralled them. Thus, trade of porcelain flourished between the two countries. Europe tried hard to recreate the technique, but never quite discovered the secret of the Chinese. One crucial ingredient called Kaolin, only available in China, was crucial to producing this quality of porcelain, thus only China was really able to produce the highest quality porcelain. Europeans experimented with the kaolin they were able to import and added other ingredients. The end-result was a soft paste porcelain.


Ceramic is an all-encompassing term that includes pottery, bone ware, earthenware, and porcelain. The term ceramic comes from Greece and it means potteries. It is a description of any natural clay article that heat has hardened. This term includes tiles made of ceramic on the floors of bathrooms and the like. There are various ceramics. The type of ceramic is determined by the variables heat and clay. The heat in which the clay bakes when firing occurs and how long it bakes for will determine the end product’s hardness. The formation of clay occurs when there is a combination of different organic substances and which varieties are used.

Getting It Straight

With all the different variations involved, it is not hard to understand that there is a vast array of ceramic types. It is also not hard to understand why the terms are mistakenly used interchangeably. After all, porcelain is created with heat and special clay, which is what ceramic, is, thus making it one of the ceramic subcategories. On the other hand, take note that many ceramics are not porcelain and may be inauthentic porcelain made of hard paste. Ceramics can include sculptures, figurines, tiles, and plates. When a collectible is not stoneware, pottery or porcelain, it is called ceramic.

Porcelain is a specified type of ceramic, prized highly for its top-notch quality. Not many other countries are able to reproduce what China is able to produce. Thus, true porcelain comes with a certificate.