What happened

It's been a rocky few days following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. While markets seem to have recovered from the initial fallout, investors have been looking to fortify their portfolios, seeking to reduce their risk exposure. This fear has manifested as a gold rush, in which investors hurry into one of their favorite safe-harbor investments: gold.

In light of the high correlation between the movements in the market price of gold and those of gold mining stocks, it's unsurprising that leading gold mining stocks are looking more lustrous this week. As of the end of today's trading session, shares of gold miners Equinox Gold (EQX 8.15%), Gold Fields (GFI 6.06%), and Harmony Gold Mining (HMY 4.03%) have climbed 25.5%, 22.1%, and 19.6%, respectively, since the end of last Friday's trading session, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

So what

Throughout last week, the price of gold moved nominally higher, ending the week at about $1,861 per ounce. On Monday, however, the yellow metal glittered more brightly in investors' eyes, and the market price rose about 2.7%. Though the uncertainty regarding uninsured depositors at Silicon Valley Bank had been resolved, the fear of contagion continued. Thus, when investors started to question the fate of Credit Suisse Group in the middle of the week, the price of gold rose again, rising as high as $1,933.40 per ounce on Wednesday.

While some gold bugs may have simply bought bullion to hedge against market volatility, others were likely drawn to shares in Equinox Gold, Gold Fields, and Harmony Gold since they had fallen out of favor. From the start of February through last Friday, Equinox Gold and Gold Fields had fallen 23.8% and 19%, respectively, while Harmony Gold's stock had dropped 14.6%.

Gold investors may have also been focused on Gold Fields after learning that it agreed to terms with AngloGold Ashanti (AU 4.78%) to form a joint venture in Ghana. The subjects of the joint venture are the Tarkwa mine, in which Gold Fields has a 90% ownership stake, and AngloGold Ashanti's Iduapriem mines. According to the two companies, the joint venture has an estimated annual production of 900,000 gold ounces during the first five years, and average annual production of over 600,000 gold ounces afterwards. Moreover, the joint venture is expected to have all-in sustaining costs per gold ounce of less than $1,000 during the first five years, and less than $1,200 in the sixth year and beyond.

Now what

With gold highly valued as an effective way to mitigate the risks associated with market volatility, it's unsurprising that gold stocks jumped over the past few days. However, it's important to recognize that while gold mining stocks like Equinox Gold, Gold Fields, and Harmony Gold may provide some safety from wild market swings, there are still inherent risks associated with the individual equities. If you're a conservative investor looking to add some luster to your portfolio, you may want to consider gold ETFs as a way to fortify your holdings.