LONDON -- The price of gold has come back with a bang since the latest European Central Bank bond purchase program and the U.S. Federal Reserve's QE3 were announced. Early on Friday morning, spot gold was trading around $1,771 per ounce, down slightly from a high of $1,779 earlier this week but up by more than 9% over the last month.

Of course, the only practical way for most private investors to hold gold is through an ETF, and the $63 billion SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE: GLD) has risen by 1.8% over the last five trading days as investors flock to gold to protect themselves from the devaluing effect of the Fed's latest money-printing operation. The London-listed Gold Bullion ETF (LSE: GBS.L) has also gained 1.8% since last Friday, and both funds are up by approximately 9% over the last month.

Miners outperforming gold
Many investors prefer to invest in gold-mining stocks, rather than gold itself, as investing in miners offers the potential for leveraged gains on the price of gold.

Investors in Cluff Gold (LSE: CLF.L) have had a rollercoaster few years since the company was sold by its eponymous founder, but the company's share price has risen by 26% to 87.5 pence over the last 30 days, thanks to a rising gold price and the confirmation of a new deal with Samsung that will see Cluff Gold sell 1,929 ounces of gold per month to Samsung and receive a $20 million credit line.

Meanwhile, FTSE 250 miner Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG.L) has risen by 16% to 438 pence in the last five days, having recently benefited from several broker upgrades and the rising price of gold. Another plus for the company -- while gold prices continue to rise -- is that it recently reached the end of its gold price hedging program and is fully exposed to current higher prices. Despite this, a heavy debt load and Russian risk premium continue to weigh on its share price: Its shares trade at just 5.8 times last year's earnings, giving a dividend yield of 4.2% -- unusually high for a miner.

Finally, the largest pure gold miner in the FTSE 100, Randgold Resources (LSE: RRS.L), has risen by 21% to 7,440 pence over the last month as investors piled back into gold -- despite the fact that Randgold's shares already trade on a price-to-earnings ratio of 29 and offer a yield of just 0.3%. Randgold appears to be making solid progress with the development of its new mine in Kibali, Democratic Republic of Congo, strengthening its already impressive reputation for doing business in difficult African countries.

Shares versus commodities
This is a key point to remember for commodities investors: 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, "Ten 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 download it now, as it will only be available for a limited time.

Further investment opportunities:

Roland does not own any shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.