PBS's runaway Masterpiece Classic hit has had fans glued to the screen to watch Downton Abbey's scoundrels, scandals, and struggles to prevail into a new era with its residents and its honor intact. However, the end of Season 2 of this popular show has brought on Downton withdrawal as viewers try to find ways to pass time during the hiatus.
For everyone who feels bereft waiting for the premiere episode of Season 3 (set to premiere on the BBC in the UK in September, and on PBS in America in January 2013), what better way to honor the show's spirit than with a little Downton decor for the home in the form of a Downton-style dinner party?
Not sure where to start? No problem. When it comes to preparing for a big Downton Dinner for the premiere of Season 3, Lenox has all of the tips for adding Downton Abbey style (from genuine old patterns of the era that are still popular today!) to your entertaining.
While you might want to pare down the Edwardian tradition of serving eight to nine courses, and you may not measure the distance between forks as the long-suffering butlers do at Downton, but you can still set a magnificent table reminiscent of this classic era thanks to America's iconic name in tabletop, Lenox.
Many patterns from America's leading dinnerware brand would be right at home in Downton, but perhaps none so much as Autumn, which was actually designed in the period.
Originally introduced in 1918, Autumn is still one of the most popular patterns in America today. The Autumn collection of fine china combines beautiful floral motifs and the jeweled colors of autumn flowers, displaying more than 400 enamel "dots" that are hand applied to form the floral and fruit basket design.
The ivory fine china, enriched with a gold band, is wrought in the classic Lenox tradition that continues to appeal to every generation, but is perhaps no more in vogue than right now, with the world caught up in Downton fever. This beautiful style could well have been gifted by their American relations to Matthew and Mary Crawley, who in the Downton saga (finally!) became engaged on Christmas 1919.
Mixing, matching or alternating other classic Lenox patterns with Autumn would also yield enough variations to get through all ten episodes. Which is where the sophisticated beauty of Vintage Jewel, an heirloom-quality pattern that represents both opulent design and painstaking workmanship (both of which were at their height in the Downton era and are still practiced today by Lenox) would fit right in.
The deep, rich cobalt is the perfect contrast to the luster of gold and platinum, all arrayed against Lenox white-bodied china. When a crisp, clean box from Lenox arrived carrying a set of the Vintage Jewel china, I couldn't wait to see the beauty in person.
Unsurprisingly, these pieces were nothing short of stunning.
The combination of the Lenox fine bone china and the 24 karat gold, precious platinum, and enamel jeweling accents really does come together to make a set that is sophisticated and classic.
Running my hands over the dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate, saucer and teacup, it was easily apparent that these pieces are delicate (but still durable) and the raised jewels are such a great detailed touch.
I also absolutely love that this service is dishwasher-safe! Because even though a dinner party is celebrating the early 1900s, that doesn't mean that it can't have modern conveniences thrown in as well.
Normally retailing for $200, the 5-piece Vintage Jewel china from Lenox is on sale now for $139.95 and is available alongside dozens of other classic and contemporary Lenox patterns through fine department and specialty stores nationwide as well as from Lenox.com.
Once you have your china all set, there will still be plenty of time to scour flea markets for items to set if off properly such as a vintage silver candelabra, a lovely silver tea service or some elaborate flatware. Then gather your family and friends and be prepared to celebrate the long-awaited return of Season 3 of Downton Abbey this winter.
(Other than the Downton Abbey information and 5-piece Vintage Jewel set that I was sent from Lenox, I was not provided with anything or enticed to do this review in any way. This review is solely my opinion of this product.)