I love beautiful, old vintage china sets and there are plenty to be found at garage and estate sales. Operating a couple of booths at an antique mall, we find that fine china moves very slowly these days. Most young couples don't have any interest in "fancy" china sets they feel they will never use.
I say use the good china every day! Go ahead and get a gorgeous set, but don't tuck it away, only to be pulled out for holiday dinners. It is such a shame to see these treasures discarded. Much better to break or chip a piece of fine china using it every day than to see them stuffed away in a closet or garage.
You can get full china sets for unheard of prices at garage and estate sales, sometimes as low as $20 for a full set. We recently bought a small set of the Staffordshire "Dickens Coaching Stages" by Grindley pattern (shown above) for $25. Unusual scenes from Dickens are in brown with hand painted accents in yellows and reds. You can't get a set of plain stoneware for that, and how much more character and history this has!
Don't be afraid. Buy that china set, use it every day, put it in the dishwasher, whatever. It deserves to see the light of day.