Sheffield Cutlery Flatware & Gifts

Video Links

BBC - Sheffield's Stainless Steel Legacy

Further Information

Steelmakers and Knotted String Hardback book by Harry Brearley.
Click the link for price and ordering information.

Millennium Canteen - Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University.

Stainless Steel Cutlery

About Stainless Steel


Harry Brearley
Harry Brearley

Like Rome, Sheffield is built on 7 hills. The similarities do not extend much beyond that fact, but the topography of the city gave it an advantage and led to its industrial development over hundreds of years. The rivers flowing through the city provided power for waterwheels that drove machinery in hundreds of workshops. The area is a source of iron ore and coal which led to the steel industry and which put the city on the map as a major industrial centre.

Sandstone quarries provided grinding wheels used for polishing steel, particularly in the cutlery trade which has existed for over 800 years.

See Cutlery History for more details.

The development of stainless steel was the brainchild of Harry Brearley who, in 1913, was working on a project to prevent rifle barrels from corroding so much during use. His analysis of the rifle barrels involved having to dissolve them in acid but, by chance, he noticed that steel which had a high chromium content did not dissolve in the acid.

He experimented with varying proportions of chromium and finally produced a stainless steel with 12.8% chromium. He moved to Thos. Firth & Sons in 1914 and commercial production of stainless steel cutlery began. Refinements were necessary because early versions of stainless steel knives were harder to produce and polish, and they would not cut as well as the existing knives.

Over 100 Years Of Stainless Steel

elkington stainless steel cutlery

Typically, you will now see "18/10 Stainless Steel". The "18" refers to the percentage of chromium and the "10" is the nickel content. Present day stainless steel, as produced by Sheffield cutlery companies, is a highly resistant material that can be mirror-polished or satin finished.

18/10 stainless steel conforms to British Standards ISO 8442, F.D.A. and US Public Health regulations and European Health Directives.

Do beware of inferior "stainless" steel. You may find that it is not so stainless and that its strength and durability are poor by comparison to what is on offer via this web site. Click to view our Showroom.

Sheffield Cutlery - Stainless Steel, Silver Plate & Sterling Silver

Caring For Stainless Steel

Note that the word "stainless" is not an indication that steel will never stain or corrode. It means that it will stain or tarnish to a lesser extent than non-stainless metals. It is still necessary to exercise due care for your stainless steel cutlery if you are not to experience problems.

Have a look at the CATRA web page which reveals some of the considerations of the properties of Stainless Steel and how best to deal with problems should they arise.

We have had experience over the years of customers reporting "faults" with their cutlery when closer investigation has revealed that the cutlery is not to blame at all, but that some other aspects may be responsible e.g. the use of dishwashers, cutting of foods with high acidic content, cutlery being left to stand unwashed overnight, and other unexpected scenarios.

We remind customers that any cutlery will tarnish if exposed to chemicals that are found in some detergents or foodstuffs. Even tap water can leave a deposit on the surface if you were to wash your cutlery and then allow it to dry by evaporation. Cutlery should ideally be washed soon after use in warm soapy water and dried quickly rather than left to stand in a damp environment. Dishwashers have high temperatures, salt and strong detergents that will test any metal object hence our advice not to use them at all on cutlery.

Dishwasher Use & Its Effect On Stainless Steel Cutlery

As we say in our FAQ Section, we do not recommend the use of dishwashers on any cutlery or products sold from this web site.

Here's a reader's letter taken from The Times that goes some way to explaining how things can go wrong if dishwashers are used, and how it's not always a fault with the cutlery itself:-

Q: How can I remove the blue tarnish from stainless steel cutlery? I've reduced the rinse aid setting in the dishwasher, which helped a little. The cutlery manufacturer said to use a stainless steel cleaner, but the bloom persists.
A: Sounds like "detergent bloom", caused by a build-up of dried-on detergent. The likely cause is your dishwasher not rinsing properly, rather than the detergent. The same can happen if you overdose with rinse aid. So keep tweaking to see if it improves; if not, get an engineer to check the machine.
I'm surprised the stainless steel cleaners haven't worked. Try soaking the cutlery in vinegar for 5-10 minutes, then rinsing. Do the same with crockery and glasses as these will be affected as well; it's just not as visible on white ceramic, while glassware goes all colours, eventually turning white, before you are likely to notice.
Sheffield Cutlery - Stainless Steel


Arthur Price Everyday Classics - 50 Year Manufacturers' Guarantee
Sophie Conran - 50 Year Manufacturers' Guarantee
Monsoon - 50 Year Manufacturers' Guarantee
Signature - 50 Year Manufacturers' Guarantee
Arthur Price Of England Stainless Steel - Lifetime Manufacturers' Guarantee.