For diamonds, go to Antwerp. For gold, take your pick from Johannesburg or Zurich. But for silver – in Scotland, at least – there was a time when all roads led northeast, to the small town of Banff.

Overlooking Banff Bay, known for its fine Georgian architecture, golf courses and fishing boats but without a silver mine to its name, the Aberdeenshire town was at the very heart of Scottish silver-making for centuries.

Banff silver even had its own hallmark – a simple “B” – and from the 1680s to the 1880s there was a succession of 24 silversmiths working in the town producing some of the most desirable silver products of the day.

However, demand dropped and Banff silver and the expert makers who created dazzling objects using their hammers, torches, files and plenty of polish faded away.

Now, however, 200 years since the town’s silversmiths were at their peak, the skill of crafting shiny silver works of art is again being celebrated in the town.

Around £1 million has been invested in what were once dilapidated blacksmith’s workshops and meal house buildings to enable the tap-tap of the silversmith’s hammer to be heard once again.

Launched last year, The Smiddy workshops have recently seen the creation of the first silver spoons to be made in Banff for two centuries, lovingly crafted by a new generation of silversmiths who are helping to revive the town’s links with the craft.

And it’s not only Banff that is rediscovering a love for handcrafted silver. Recently, Elements festival in Edinburgh – which showcases work by 50 gold, silver and jewellery artists – included eye-catching contemporary silver exhibits created by talented new Scottish artists. Right across the country, there are increasing numbers of workshops and classes devoted to teaching the art of silver crafting.

In Edinburgh, the Precious Metals Workshop at Out Of The Blue in Leith has bench space and tools for up to 30 resident jewellers and silversmiths while the nearby SilverHub Jewellery School has over 60 students learning at various levels, with a number going on to further study at art college.

Lisa Arnott, who founded the school and studios, says there has been a surge in interest from students keen to learn the silversmith’s craft.

“For some it is a hobby, for other it’s a new career or their portfolio for college. For others it’s about supporting their mental health,” she said.

“I didn’t know this demand was there when I opened the studios 10 years ago. From two students and space for four jewellers there’s now a community of makers of all levels, over 60 students and 12 professionals.”

Meanwhile, Vanilla Ink, a Glasgow jewellery school and studio run by Kate Pickering and Scott McIntyre, has a thriving “INKubator” programme, supporting start-up jewellers and silversmiths.

Vanilla Ink is driving the resurrection of silver crafting in Banff, fulfilling a vision to revive interest in a unique element of the town’s history and save the crumbling blacksmith’s smiddy and meal house.

Backed by £500,000 of grants from Historic Environment Scotland plus around the same again from Aberdeenshire Council, the Scottish Government and private owners, the revamped buildings now provide space for skilled silversmiths, jewellers and learners’ workshops.

Megan Falconer, a technician and tutor at The Smiddy, who was among the artists whose work was showcased at the Elements festival says: “The Smiddy has been a real success. What’s so exciting is that it’s reviving a very old tradition that had disappeared for a long time.

“We are working with schools and colleges which is great because we’d love to bring on a new generation of young silversmiths who want to live and work there rather than leaving the area.”

For two centuries from the 1680s, silversmiths gravitated towards Banff to meet demand from rich countryside landowners who made the town their winter retreat.

The craze for Banff silver soared when the Earls of Fife constructed Duff House in the mid-18th century, sparking a rush among local well-heeled families to acquire the very best of silverware to impress their guests.

Continental and English fashions drove further demand for lavish tableware and fancy eating utensils.

Now highly rare, Banff antique silver can fetch impressive figures: a single silver spoon dating from the early-19th century can sell for £165, while a silver bullet teapot made in Banff around 1700 is thought to be the oldest silver tea-pot in Scotland. It is currently held at Banff Museum.

Around nine silversmiths work from The Smiddy, while it also runs workshops for beginners and regular evening sessions which explore silver objects from nearby Duff House.

According to Alison Arrowsmith, The Smiddy’s workshop co-ordinator, many students are surprised to discover Banff’s historic status as a town of silversmiths: “Most people who live here have no idea of that side to the town’s heritage. Banff has all this Georgian architecture because of those wealthy landowners who wanted to winter in Banff rather than be isolated in the countryside.

“That drove the silversmiths to come here – they followed the money.”

Mary Michel, director of The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh, said: “There is definitely growing interest in silver.

“Demand is rising from people who are looking to move away from high street for something that is more unique and different. They want to meet the silversmith and find out about the materials and the provenance.”