Budget alternatives to Hermès dishes?
April 5, 2013 8:08 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I are looking to invest in a dish set, but we've been struggling to find anything we agree on. After several department store visits, we finally glimpsed something that both of us really, really love. "Look at that!" we exclaimed in unison. Unfortunately, the "that" was Hermès' "Cheval d'Orient" series, which sell for hundreds or thousands per plate. This is way, way beyond our means. Can you recommend some budget alternatives in a similar style?

Other things we have quite liked (but not nearly to the same degree): "Tresor" by Raynaud, "Jardin des Orchidées" by Hermes and "Farmhouse Touch" by Villeroy & Boch. Oh and this Anthropologie plate.

Other bits and pieces:
  • We are located in Montreal, Canada. (But will be visiting Paris soon, if that's relevant.)
  • We're not fussy about brand names - it's not the "Hermès" name that attracts us; we'd be content if it was Ikea.
  • We are looking for a set, not for single dishes.
Thank you!
posted by Marquis to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The sets you linked me to reminded me of somewhat of the dinnerware set (patterned plates and serving platters, with solid-colored accent dishes and serving bowls) we got at World Market, which has lots of mix-and-match patterns-and-solids options.
posted by erst at 8:22 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

The big problem with Anthro, etc. is that they make the stuff for a season, and if you break one, you're out of luck. Take a gander at Replacements.com and I'll bet you can find something you like.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:26 AM on April 5, 2013

Speaking of World Market, these look kinda familiar....
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:28 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

You might want to check out iittala - they're a little pricey and kinda hard to find, but have nice patterns.
posted by Fig at 8:51 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you considered re-setting your table aesthetic? I see you now picking out these amazingly vibrant dishes which also happen to be amazingly expensive. You might consider "dressing" your table differently -- choosing a plain, simple plate, and jazzing it up with all of the accessories, like napkins, serving dishes, serving ware, etc. Those orchid plates you like -- maybe that means you really want orchids at your table, either cut flowers or live plants. Stuff like that?
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

The things you like have very, very little in common... I want to suggest looking at 1950s and 1960s patterns but I don't even know if I'm near the mark given how different your examples all are from each other. Two vibrant, one all-white, one mid-century-esque...wha? Maybe go with hardware-store $20/box dishes and just keep the nice-dish money invested until you find YOUR pattern if you don't turn up anything in the near future?

A very poor match for that Cheval d'Orient might be Villeroy & Boch Acapulco.

If you are willing to put in a wee bit more shopping work second-hand gets you a great deal of dish bang for the buck -- replacements.com should be stuffed with ideas, and don't overlook Etsy. Once you know what you want eBay or your local "antiques" (quotation marks deliberate) store should have a dealer with a full set soon if not immediately (use a "saved search" on eBay).
posted by kmennie at 9:13 AM on April 5, 2013

I'd suggest that you check out Ebay. My dad has been on what can only be described as an Ebay Spree over the past few years. He's found some really lovely patterns.

The best part about Ebay is that whole sets will be sold for significantly under what Replacements Ltd. would charge for the same. They're found at estate auctions/sales and they're often in excellent condition.

He found a set of Lenox "Mystic" (which was discontinued in 1924) which had a HUGE number of pieces, and sold for a couple hundred dollars. Since then he's purchased no fewer than 15 different patterns in varying numbers of place settings. His house looks like an antique shop at this point. He's got antique hand painted Noritake, he's got Mid-Century Modern Russel Wright and a host of other patterns.

Even if that pattern is not one you like, I'd suggest that you two take a look through some of the china pattern listings on Ebay. It'll give you the same opportunity to play "We Like This/We Hate This" but you'll also be likely to find something that is reasonably priced. A quick search for "colorful china pattern" yielded this Antique Minton dish set as well as this Wedgewood Forentine salad plate combo which are both reasonably priced and seem to fall within your taste preferences.
posted by jph at 9:16 AM on April 5, 2013

Here is the full "Voyage" collection from World Market. I think it's a fantastic substitute.
posted by acidic at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might like ittala's Taika collection. It's very recognizable though, if you consider that a drawback.
posted by halogen at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I find the Voyage designs from World Market kind of gauche and off-putting, with chunky designs, indistinct colors, and those hideous storybook animal pictures. They feel like I'm eating off of a Dick and Jane book.

I own some of iittala's black and white Taika plates, and they have a great, "sharp," high-contrast look. But they're probably not a super-close match to your Hermes plates.

Macy's actually has a very nice dinnerware collection. These plates from Denby might be a distant match, although it's not a very high-contrast design. Some Noritake designs might also be up your alley, combining sharp solid accents with a very pretty semi-translucent design (1, 2).

None are cheap.
posted by Nomyte at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2013

If you're willing to do it, the best (but not fastest) way to get a terrific set of awesome dishes for crazy-cheap is to start visiting your local thrift store once every week or so. Whole sets don't sell often, so they tend to hang around waiting for someone who will love them. If you find most of the set, it's pretty cheap to fill in missing pieces on eBay and Etsy, esp. for more popular patterns. (If you have your smartphone with you, the plates will generally have the name of the pattern, and you can see if it's a better-known pattern or not.)

I have found complete or nearly-complete sets of Swiss Alpine, Star Glow, Temporama, and other classic mid-century sets from high-quality makers like Denby and Mikasa for crazy-cheap.

If you're still interested in vintage dishware but aren't into the thrifting thing, you can troll some local antique stores for a pattern you like and then look for complete sets on eBay and Etsy. Complete sets aren't selling for much these days.
posted by pie ninja at 10:09 AM on April 5, 2013

Will you be using it as everyday dinnerware or for special occasions only?
posted by evoque at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2013

I have seen gorgeous china sets at Goodwill, and at estate sales. Check out sales & auctions in your area and you may be able to get some very fine china for very little. It may not be your precise taste, but you can get something genuinely beautiful. I have Homer Laughlin plates with lavish decoration and plain white antique china with gold rims. It was all gifts from elderly family friends, so it's extra-special to me, but it's also lovely. Goodwill is likely to be rather hot or miss, but I once saw a set of antique Bavarian china there that was amazing, and there is often collectible Mid-Century Modern china.
posted by theora55 at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2013

Royal Crown Derby has some beautiful, ornate patterns and is available both new and in antique stores or at Replacements. If you like to mix and match, you can find variations that complement each other. So Evening Star or vintage Imari patterns may go well with Gold (or Red) Aves, and the Veronese Accent (etc.) They're fantastic as far as quality goes.

I worked at an antique store that carried quite a lot in it. My advice in selling it was always to choose something plainer, with a fancy border and white centre for the larger dinner dishes, because food looks better on it and you won't cause as much wear to the gilt or enameling. Go crazy with the designs for the luncheon, the accent, serving and dessert pieces - they're smaller and less expensive. Some of their collaborations are stunning too, and may bring the best of your other favourites in line with your preference for the Hermes.

Many of our clients did not buy an entire service at one time, but one setting for each special occasion and built their collections that way. There are lots of places that sell this in Toronto and Montreal, but it's also available online.
posted by peagood at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2013

Part of the challenge is you've now looked at the good stuff. It's difficult or impossible to find that level of quality and detail at a mass market price. Looking at the Hermes plates, I think those would be fantastic for a dinner party but visually tedious for every day. (And that makes sense - someone who can afford a $25K set of china can afford multiple sets to rotate. What do they care if they get bored with one set of dishes.)

Can you identify what you like specifically? The specific colors? the density of the pattern? The equestrian theme? The relatively masculine pattern?

For vivid color I like: Raynaud Cristobal Dinnerware and Marchesa Empire Pear. This Royal Crown Derby Hol Imari has a very intense density of pattern. It's also available as Old Imari. This Marchesa Palatial Garden also has a good pattern density with a more muted color scheme. Haviland Syracuse has a pretty masculine look, but with that much gold on the body of the plate it's going to be delicate. Hopscotch Drive by Kate Spade is colorful and clean. There's something about Mottahedeh Sacred Bird that makes me think you might like it.

I'm assuming that something that looks hand painted is out for you based on your choices, but this Mosaic is densely patterned.
posted by 26.2 at 11:20 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm having a hard time understanding the connection between the various sets. Can you talk a bit about what you like about each one, or the Hermes one in particular?

Ittalia origo - various colorways

Jasper Conran Chinoiserie (more here)

Hand-Painted Dotted Dinnerware Set | west elm

Potter’s Workshop Tableware – Blue | west elm

Glazed Terracotta Dinnerware Set – Blue Tile | west elm

Tons of others at West Elm

Fine china at 1st Dibs

Options at Horchow

The Heath Ceramics plates are gorgeous - understated, mix and match, and fit a variety of events. But they're not 'super fancy china.' We get compliments on ours whenever we have guests over, and I love using them every single day. They're far more beautiful in person than a camera can capture.
posted by barnone at 11:28 AM on April 5, 2013



Portmeiron botanic garden

are 2 that I like.
posted by bq at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2013

Have you checked out other Villery & Boch patterns? Teh Samarkand designs on the second page are a good sub for the Hermes. I worked at a V&B retail store in college and at fist thought their stuff was expensive (cause my budget for thath stuff was more Dollar Tree) but one of the perks of working there was occasional free or really discounted things and they are of noticable quality. I find the quality and prie to match, so the price isn't undully high. They also have a decent resale value.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:23 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I came in to suggest the V&B Samarkand as well, and then seeing your other choices, I think it could also be another pattern. Actually, I think Villeroy & Bosch has far better value for money than Hermes, so there's that.
Personally, I bought a really nice set at a thrift store 15 years ago, and use that while I collect Wedgwood one or two elements at a time. (And I get distracted, so I have a lot of other stuff so I have to mix and match sometimes if I have a large party).
posted by mumimor at 3:39 AM on April 6, 2013

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