Porcelain falls under the category of ceramics, which includes pottery, bone china, and earthenware. Porcelain includes a mixture of kaolin, a white clay, and petuntse, a feldspar mineral from China, that is fired at nearly 2600 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic, on the other hand, is composed of a hard, brittle material produced from nonmetallic minerals. The average figurine collector can tell the difference by looking at their look, feel, and sound.
Hold each figurine up to the light and wave a finger back and forth behind it. The porcelain figurine will allow the shadow of your finger to pass through it, because of its translucence. Ceramic is completely opaque.
Run a finger over the surface of each figurine. The porcelain figurine will feel fine and smooth, like the surface of an egg shell.
Carefully examine the appearance of each figurine. Porcelain tends to have a thinner, whiter, and more delicate appearance than ceramic. If both figurines are white, note which figurine has more gloss. The fusion of petuntse and kaolin in porcelain gives it this glossy, glass-like appearance.
Strike both figurines softly with a fingernail. The ceramic figurine will make a dull sound, while the porcelain figurine will produce a bell-like ring when struck.