A taste of 19th Century Moray is retained by local Jeweller

Helen Cormack

After a year of painstaking research into the traditional 19th century silversmiths art in Moray a local businesswoman is recreating their once common techniques with modern technology.

Originally from Caithness, Helen Cormack is now based in Elgin – where he husband’s family originated – and set up ‘The Benchworks’ a year ago.

Little did she realise then, however, that the new venture would take her into studies of Moray in the 1800’s.

Helen said: “I was keen to find something which could bind my jewellery business to the Moray area.

“I knew that a number of historical Elgin marks existed and began the process of trying to re-instate one of these to be used on her jewellery.

“After some research, both online and with The Elgin Museum, I discovered photos of a number of old Elgin provincial marks used by The Incorporation of Hammermen back in the 1800’s.

“After lengthy correspondence with the Edinburgh Assay Office, I received notification from their historians that these marks had never officially been recognised, as the marking of pieces by local Incorporations of Hammermen was not strictly legal by the late eighteenth century when silver items should have been hallmarked in Edinburgh.”

It was not going to be possible for Helen to reinstate an exact copy of the old provincial marks but undaunted Helen designed her own logo mark based on the originals and uniquely distinguishable from them.

She added: “This mark can now be struck by the Edinburgh Assay office onto pieces I create at The Benchworks.”

Helen had been a Goldsmith for over 18 years after completing studies at Glasgow, gathering experience at jewellery workshops in central Scotland and the Highlands. This has led to her undertaking commissions to the point that she is now considered expert on all types of jewellery repairs, with an in-depth knowledge of working with gold, palladium and silver.

She said: “Using a combination of traditional techniques and modern technology, The Benchworks offers a design service that keeps the client involved every step of the way.

“As well as providing a full range of jewellery workshop services such as, commissions, repairs, maintenance, engraving and valuations, an extensive range of jewellery can be sourced from other suppliers.”

More information on Helen’s work can be found online at www.thebenchworks.co.uk while she can also be contacted by email to helen@thebenchworks.co.uk or by calling 07736 839511.

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