NEW YORK — Brides are getting bolder--at least when it comes to picking china patterns.
They also are opting for opulence, ornateness and lots of expensive gold trim.
That's the word from two major china importers, Haviland Limoges and Wedgewood.
"Without question, china has become more interesting to the young bride today than in the past 15 years," said Charles Thompson, president of Haviland Limoges.
"Most notable is the fact that people are venturing out, they are starting to mix and match and not going the very cautious route of buying everything in one pattern.
"Years ago manufacturers went so far as to name the crystal after a china pattern because brides of the time didn't know what to use with what. That's not true today."
Couples Marrying Later
One reason for the new prenuptial confidence, said Thompson, is that couples are marrying at a slightly older age than they used to.
"They have been living in their own apartments and have had their own life style for a number of years before getting married," he said. "Even the male is bringing a knowledge of the table top to the marriage, which was never the case before.
"The interest in gourmet food and good living has carried over into the china and crystal area."
The mature bride has spent more time in the workplace, he said, and has more money to contribute to the wedding budget. Haviland researchers have found that in many cases brides and bridegrooms are taking over the parents' traditional role in financing the wedding and their combined incomes frequently average $40,000.
This new affluence has meant new tastes in household furnishings. According to Thompson, there is a trend in pattern choices toward opulence and formality, lots of ornateness and lots of gold.
"This is a reversal of the trend in recent years toward pastels and maybe small flowers and the kind of pattern that just did not make a statement," he said.
Haviland Limoges ranges in price from $200 to several thousand dollars for a five-piece place setting. The best-sellers are in the $250-$300 price range.
"There's an emphasis on items rather than complete sets," said Thompson. "Brides select one china service, a second pattern in salads, or extra serving pieces in a different pattern."
The strong colors this year, he said, are in the blue field.
Emphasis on Quality
Thompson's views were backed by Wedgewood vice president Carol Whitehouse, who said, "Quality has been the name of the game for the last two or three years.
"The emphasis is on the traditional. I think we saw it first in general home furnishings, draperies, rugs, furniture and now in table top. The educated consumer is interested in buying quality merchandise.
"There has been a total return to traditional styling (in china)--not overly or heavily decorated but designs they can live with. Platinum bands have been very popular, as have overall designs. Narrow bands were in, but now we are seeing wider bands, a heavily decorated shoulder."
With regard to color, Whitehouse said blue has always been strong and cobalt has become particularly popular. Brides who are looking for more decorated designs tend to choose stronger colors. The most popular price range in the china market is between $75 and $150 for a five-piece place setting, with a lot of action in the $100-a-place-setting range.
"The traditional trend has been coming up for the last three or four years," said Whitehouse, "and I think it's here to stay for quite a while."