I recently read in a magazine about ceramic knives and how they practically never need to be sharpened, are very sharp themselves and are excellent in the home kitchen. Are they worth getting, and is a cheaper version still good in terms of durability and quality?
Choosing knives is a very personal thing and what suits one person may not suit another. Ceramic knives are very light, do stay sharper than steel knives and also do not corrode which makes them a great choice for wet or humid environments. However ceramic knives can break if they are dropped onto a hard surface and so are also not great for cutting through bones or frozen items.
We would suggest that before you buy any knives you go to a store and look at and pick up a few knives. Choose one that feels comfortable in your hand and doesn't feel too heavy for you. See if you can move the knife easily up and down for chopping. If you choose a ceramic knife then check with the store how you should clean and store it. If you choose a more regular steel knife then we suggest that you also buy a sharpening steel and ask the store to show you how to use the steel safely. If you keep your knife sharp then it will be easier to use - give it a short sharpening using the steel before each use (and wipe the blade with a tea towel before using it to remove any small shards of steel). Dry the knife after washing to reduce the risk of rust spots appearing and we suggest you avoid washing chopping knives in a dishwasher. Store the knife on a magnetic strip or in a block rather than in a drawer as this will also help to prevent the blade from becoming dull.
Periodic professional re-sharpening is also a good idea, though should only be necessary every 6 months to 1 year if you use the sharpening steel regularly. Some cookware stores offer sharpening services, or you may find that your local butcher will sharpen knives for you. We have even found a knife sharpening service in a cobbler's store so it is worth checking around to find a service locally.