Tony Marsh, East Rock Goldsmith

Golden Years

With the price of gold and precious metals through the roof, it’s increasingly tempting to go rooting through your dusty jewelry boxes to find buried treasure. But before you hurtle headlong into any random store with a sign that blares, “WE BUY GOLD!!!”, it’s best to get some expert advice.

Enter Tony Marsh, Goldsmith. East Rock residents may have noticed his tiny storefront on Edwards Street, which opened its doors last year and finally got a license (from the New Haven Police Department) to buy gold in February.

Tony is primarily a skilled artisan, and a gifted one at that: He completed his goldsmith apprenticeship in Albany, New York back in 1965, and has since owned shops there and on Long Island. He also spent many years designing and manufacturing jewelry for other companies, notably Tiffany’s, where he also assembled prototypes. “There was a Queen Anne’s Lace brooch,” recalls the silver-haired Tony, “that had 105 pieces – green gold, yellow gold, all the tiny florets. It took eight days to assemble, then it had to be polished and finished.”

Prompted by his daughter’s settling in the New Haven area – she graduated from Albertus Magnus – and his other two

East Rock Goldsmith
3 Edwards Street, New Haven (map)
203-777-7474 |
Mon-Fri 9am-5:00pm, Sat 11:30am-3pm

children’s moving to Westchester County, Tony decided to put down roots in Connecticut. That was in 2006. He closed his Albany jewelry store, E. Anthony and Co., and thought about retiring… for about two seconds. “Retire to what? A rocking chair? That’s not for me,” says Tony, standing in a leather apron on his selling floor. “I believe that if you rest, you rust.”

He found a few local positions, first at an Orange jewelry distributor, then at a jeweler in Hamden. At last, with the help of daughter Kerry, he opened East Rock Goldsmith. Here, in his snug, sunny shop, with classical music in the air, he designs jewelry (his newest is a series called “Organics,” based on leaves) realized in gold, silver, platinum and palladium; sells a small collection of others’ artisanal jewelry; re-sets heirloom stones; repairs broken jewelry; and restores antique jewelry.

A recent challenge was a gold ring made 100 years ago in Italy. “It was hollow, very fancy,” he recalls. “It was 18k gold and worn through in spots.” It took him approximately 25 hours to repair it. “Most places wouldn’t touch a job like that,” he says. “The gold was

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so thin you could burn right through it with a torch if you didn’t know what you were doing.”

Almost all repair work, says Tony, is on pieces that have great sentimental value to their owners. To them, the item is priceless and worth every effort to restore. Even so, says Tony, he does say no to some jobs – “Sometimes I have to tell people not to bother, because the repair isn’t feasible — I know it’s not going to look right in the end.”

Another service that East Rock Goldsmith has recently added to its menu is bronzing. With the help of a partner company, Tony can bronze virtually anything – not just the classic baby shoes but the sneakers that survived the marathon, grandmother’s eyeglasses, your beloved dog’s leash and collar – nearly any memento imaginable.

And yes, Tony buys gold, usually for scrap. His tips for those who have gold to sell? First, make sure the buyer has his or her scale in plain sight. Second, a reputable buyer will tell you – out loud — what the weight is, then make you an offer based on what the market is that day. Third, be a smart shopper. “The best thing is to call around and ask what various buyers are offering that day,” advises Tony. “One buyer might offer $25 a pennyweight (1/20th of an ounce), another might offer $20, another might be offering $28.” Also, Tony prefers buyers who use the American standard pennyweight system, versus the European gram, which he says can be confusing.

“It’s an open market,” reminds the sage. “If you don’t like an offer, check around. If you get a better deal, take it.”

That advice is pure gold.

Written by Todd Lyon. Photographed by Hayward Gatling.

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