This is a personal choice and depends on your lifestyle. There are so many different shapes and patterns and quite a spectrum in terms of quality. You have to visit a few homewares shops and figure out what you like.
We use a set of Wedgewood china in a white pattern. I really like them because they are simple and classic. I don't have to worry about having a separate set of "good" china for special dinners or for entertaining. It's also easy to mix in various serving pieces without buying the expensive matching pieces from the same pattern.
My sister had a set of stoneware and it chipped easily. I've stayed away from stoneware for that reason. I also think that cheap tableware tends to chip and crack more than the middle or higher end stuff, so I avoid the really cheap plates and bowls.
Having said that, one of our plates just cracked yesterday. It had a small chip - sustained a long time ago, not sure how - and DS used it in the microwave. He removed it and a few seconds later it suddenly cracked right through. I figure it's inevitable that a few plates and cups will be broken over a lifetime of using a set of dishes.
We just use Corelle. Light, affordable and you can find replacement everywhere if you broke some. We do bring out some nicer dishes for special dinners. They're old and I don't know if there's lead in them. But I figured using them twice a year is no big deal.
I know Fiestaware is safe but I just can't get over the looks. My family lived in a town with large china factories for a few years. I'm used to smooth, white fine china with delicate patterns for everyday (because they were local and dirt cheap). I was honestly shocked about prices when I first looked at them in regular stores. :D
I have a set of small corelle plates that I picked up at a thrift store that I really love. They are so light weight, hard to break, and fit in the dishwasher easily. I really hate to admit how much I like corelle since I also love and make hand thrown pottery. I believe corelle is also very safe, more like tempered glass than china. I haven't run across any talk of lead concerns with it.
I love Fiestaware! I've had some of my dishes for about 10 yrs, and we got more when we got married about 7 yrs ago. It's pretty durable, but the possibility of chips is there. I think over the course of 10 yrs I've broken one bowl completely, and there is a small chip in another bowl. Not bad!
Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)
Very few breaks
Another vote for plain old white Corelle. I use the lunch plates over the pasta bowls to store things in the fridge, or the saucers over the bowls, or the large plate over the serving bowl. Makes a decent all-around set and we have 2 each of plates, lunch plates, large bowls, small bowls, pasta/salad/soup style bowls and saucers. I've rarely been caught without an option for the two of us, but we hand-wash also. I really, really like that they can be used for temporary storage in the fridge (as opposed to plasticy stuff).
And! They do occasionally break, but replacements are not very expensive and can always be found at thrift, etc., if not the dreaded big box stores.
One more corelle vote! I have some vintage patterns that I use and they are awesome! I think I have 3 different patterns that kinda coordinate. I got them at thrift stores for pretty cheap and I've only broken one bowl (I've had them about 6 years) and that was from dropping it from pretty high up to the floor ;)
Single mama to DD 10/18/03 and DS 9/15/05
i have corelle for everyday (never broken a piece in 10 years) and just started collecting fiestaware, which i am really loving, for company and nice dinners. for glassware, i head to the local thrift stores (i wanted matching glassware for my christmas get together and had outstanding lucking finding a matching set of 6 tall glasses and 6 shorts for .99 cents each just before my gathering)... or IKEA has great deals on dishes/glassware. my wine glasses and everyday cups are from Ikea and various thrift stores. fun to search the racks for long lost matches to my set whenever i need to add for company or replacing broken pieces.
Katie, mommy to Oliver (2007) and brand new Ava Estelle (2014)!
Decluttering Challenge: 303/2014 items are gone!
$728 made from selling my "stuff"
(I've gotten rid of 3711 items over the last four years on this forum! Last years selling total: $456)