Christofle was founded by Charles Christofle (1805-1863), who bought the patent for gilding and silvering by electrolysis from the English company Elkington & Co. and the Frenchman Henri de Ruolz in 1842. He thus extended his production to silverware and continued his decorative researches through the art of damascening, enamelling and guilloché. One of his most famous commissions was the silver service created for Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, shown at the 1855 Universal Exhibition. Over the years, the company perfected its techniques, particularly under the direction of Henri Bouilhet, notably by using galvanoplasty. 

The 1920s and 1930s witnessed the company's heyday. At the 1925 Paris Exhibition, it presented pieces designed by Carl Christian Fjerdingstad, André Groult, Jean Bonnet, Luc Lanel, Louis Süe and André Mare. Christofle also worked with Gio Ponti, who produced some of the company's most famous designs.