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Sterling Silver Teapots & Sets

A proper European tea ceremony would not be complete without a sterling tea set, as the tradition of serving tea with a sterling silver set dates back centuries. Tea made its way to Europe in the 17th century when affluent merchants and nobility took up drinking tea.

Over the course of the next century, black tea gained in popularity among a wider spectrum of society with those who sought to emulate the lifestyles of the upper classes. Thanks in part to Queen Victoria’s affinity for tea, the steeped beverage became associated with wealth and status.

By the 18th century, sterling teapots and sets become more plentiful, but they still represented aspirational items that were prohibitively expensive for the majority of citizens. Today, silver teapots and sets are among the most common, though many are silver plated rather than solid sterling. The latter material makes an excellent choice for serving tea and coffee because of the metal’s natural ability to retain heat, keeping beverages warm for a long period of time. Also, unlike ceramics, sterling is incredibly durable, so it will never chip or crack if accidentally dropped.

Quick Facts

  • In 2014, Sotheby’s sold a Tiffany & Co. tea service for 40,000 GBP
  • Skinner Auctioneers sold a sterling Tiffany & Co. coffee and tea service for more than $22,000, more than four times the original estimate
  • Aside from Tiffany & Co., Handarbeit of Germany and Arthur Stone are among the most expensive makers of tea sets, often commanding many tens of thousands of dollars

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