In an age of Internet-centered, high-growth investments like eBay and Google, owning gold carries the same kind of stigma as driving Grandpa's old Lincoln: Unless Pimp My Ride gets a hold of it, it'll never be cool.
Even among the precious-metals group, gold has lost its shine against the wild popularity of platinum. Who sports iced-out platinum wear? (Just plug in the name of any new-millennium rapper here.) On the other hand, gold is considered old school -- think Run DMC.
Gold may have permanently lost the battle of the bling among hip-hop artists, bottoming out at $250 while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was running up to dizzying heights. But it's making somewhat of a comeback among investors while the Nasdaq has been pancaking.
As uncertainty increases -- whether from higher oil prices, the falling dollar, twin deficits (trade and federal budget), corporate scandals, or failing pensions -- so too does the price of gold, which has hit a 16-year high. There are several ways to invest in gold; the most obvious is to actually own it. American Gold Eagles are one of the easiest and soundest ways to buy gold; a one-ounce Eagle will cost the current price for an ounce of gold, plus commission. South African Gold Krugerrands and Canadian Gold Maples are two popular alternatives, but in the United States, American Gold Eagles are the hands-down favorite among gold investors.
For those who wish to invest without the headache of high commission costs or storage fees, consider the Central Fund of Canada
Having some silver in your portfolio certainly doesn't hurt. Because of silver's industrial uses, the price of silver increased 39.4% during the fund's most recent fiscal year, compared with gold's 10.2%. In its fiscal 2004 report, the fund said it held 53.3% of its assets in gold and 44.8% in silver, with the remaining 1.9% in cash and equivalents. In January 2005, the Central Fund held roughly 620,000 ounces of gold bullion and 30.1 million ounces of silver bullion.
Once you invest in Central Fund's shares, the fund does the rest. It buys the gold and the silver, stores the precious metals in underground vaults at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and insures its assets against destruction or theft. And twice a year, every last shiny piece is accounted for by a physical inspection -- much like Duck Tales' Uncle Scrooge counted every last gold coin.
Do high oil and rising deficits have you singing the blues? With a few clicks of a mouse button through a discount broker or the Central Fund of Canada, you can diversify into both gold and silver, and go old school.
If you've been diagnosed with gold fever, perhaps a dose of Fool's gold would help:
Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.