Silver decanters, unlike the more common glass decanters, are often seen as luxurious and upscale. Choosing the best silver decanter is a matter of intended use, shape, design and whether you want the decanter to come with a stopper. Another consideration is safety, because metal decanters can leach materials and poison the liquid inside.
The three most common liquids that use a decanter are wine, water and coffee. Each liquid works best with a certain type of decanter. A silver decanter made for wine should have a bottleneck shape, because this helps aerate the wine and keeps the sediments, such as grape skin bits, from getting into your glass. Silver decanters for water are often shaped like wine decanters but the decanter does not need to have the bottleneck. A silver decanter for coffee should be able to withstand the heat and, for serving purposes, should have a handle or other area that does not become too hot to touch.
The shape of the decanter, aside from fulfilling the need to improve the liquid by separating out the sediment, should also be visually appealing. For example, a wine decanter will commonly have a bottleneck shape, but the width of the mouth, the shape and width of the basin, and the various other dimensions can vary greatly from decanter to decanter. Choose a silver decanter that serves its purpose but also has a shape that looks good to you.
Silver decanters often have designs, because it is easier to make designs in metal than it is glass. You can choose a silver decanter that comes with a smooth design, an elaborate relief or something in between. Much like the shape, this is a matter of preference.
Stoppers are generally added to decanters to keep the liquid inside fresh and to avoid particles and insects from getting inside. Stoppers for silver decanters are generally made of silver, crystal or glass. Each stopper performs the same function, and this is another mark of preference. Some decanters do not come with stoppers, mainly because they are meant to be emptied during the course of a meal or gathering and are not intended for use in the long-term storage of liquids.
Whether using a silver decanter for serving liquids or storing them, silver's categorization as a metal means safety can be a concern. Silver is considered a non-toxic metal, so it is generally safe. Still, the best silver for a decanter has a high silver percentage — more than 90 percent is best — to ensure other metals cannot leach into the liquid inside.