LONDON -- Gold fell steadily last week, before making a partial recovery on Friday. Gold for June delivery ended the week down by 1.4% at $1,574 per ounce.

Of course, the only practical way for most private investors to invest in gold is through exchange-traded funds. The largest gold ETF, the $63 billion SPDR Gold Trust (NYSEMKT:GLD), slipped 1.1% to close at $152.81 on Friday, while London-listed Gold Bullion Securities (LSE:GBS) fell 2.4% to $151.10 last week. So far this year, shareholders of Gold Bullion Securities have seen the value of their holdings fall by 5.8%, while the value of SPDR Gold Trust shares has fallen by 5.7%.

Gold's big movers
Many investors prefer to invest in gold-mining stocks, rather than gold itself, as gold miners are able to use their operational gearing to outperform the price of gold. Let's take a look at three gold stocks that outperformed the yellow metal last week.

Aureus Mining (LSE:AUE) was up 4% to 40.3 pence last week after it announced that its plans to relocate two villages as part of the development of its New Liberty gold mine in Liberia had been approved by the country's Environmental Protection Agency. Aureus has now acquired the land needed for the new village and expects to complete construction of the 325 new dwellings in the third quarter of this year. Aureus Mining's share price has risen almost 10% over the last month.

Centamin (LSE:CEY) climbed 9.5% to 45.9 pence on Friday after non-exec director Mark Bankes purchased 30,000 shares in the company. The £12,876 purchase increased his holding by a third, to 120,000 shares. Centamin remains under pressure to clarify the situation regarding its mining license in Egypt, which was subject to a legal challenge last year, but Bankes' purchase could suggest he believes that a positive outcome is likely.

Timmins Gold (NYSEMKT:TGD) has gained 11.5% to $2.86 over the last month. Timmins' share price dipped almost 10% on Wednesday when its fourth-quarter revenue missed expectations, but both gold production and earnings per share were up by more than 10% from the same period last year, and the firm's share price immediately rose back to its previous level as investors topped up their holdings in the firm, whose main asset is the San Francisco mine in Sonora, in Mexico.

Shares vs. commodities
Shares in commodity companies have outperformed their underlying commodities many times over the last 10 years, thanks to their ability to magnify their gains through successful development of new resources. This free report from the Fool, "10 Steps to Making a Million From the Market" contains some excellent tips on identifying and investing in potential multibagger shares, including resource shares like gold miners. I strongly recommend that you click here and download it now, as it will only be available for a limited time.

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Roland Head has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.