Gold bugs run on the Mint: Where else to invest in gold?

Due to overwhelming demand, the US Mint has had to halt sales of its 24-karat gold buffalo coins. Sales of the solid gold coins have skyrocketed this year, as investors look for safe havens for their money. Though gold prices can be quite volatile in terms of dollars, there is no doubt that gold is indeed valuable. Gold won't declare bankruptcy, as so many major companies in so many major investing portfolios have done recently.

So if you want to invest in gold, you now have one less option. What are some other choices?

You can invest in gold futures, which are currently well below their high point earlier this year, but have been rebounding from a recent low point (but given current events, this fact may well be changing. Keep track before making a move).

If futures aren't your game, there are plenty of gold stocks on the market. Most of these companies are mining operations, and they tend to rise and fall with gold futures prices. Many of these companies also deal in other precious metals like silver and copper, so you have a little bit of internal diversity when you invest in these stocks.

I imagine, though, that if you're the type to buy gold coins as investments, you'd rather own actual gold than parts of gold companies. I'm all in favor of gold ownership, and I definitely think that gold jewelry is a sound investment, as long as you get a good price. Jewelry retail chains aren't where you're likely to find great deals, but if you're willing to shop around, you might be able to find some bargains. Inventory turnover in jewelry stores is very slow, so lots of what you see in the display was purchased before gold prices spiked -- their price tags may reflect that, and you may be able to find gold that's actually priced below today's cost.

When you shop for gold jewelry, you need to understand karat. Almost no jewelry is pure (24K) gold. Gold purity is expressed as a fraction of 24. Most of what's sold in the US is either 10K (10/24 = 41.7% pure), 14K (14/24 = 58.3% pure), or 18K (18/24 = 75% pure). Most 24K gold jewelry comes from Thailand. It's known as baht jewelry, and can be found in some stores in the US, likely with a large markup, so it may not be worth buying in a store. But if you find yourself in Thailand, take some time to shop.

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