After the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, demand for gold has lifted its price to over $850 an ounce, up from about $630 a year ago.
You may be tempted to jump on the bandwagon, but bear in mind that the gold metal pays no dividends or interest, is costly to store and to ship, and can swing down as well as up.
Still, for the sake of diversification, the ordinary investor may be wise to park some assets - perhaps 5 percent - in the 30 to 40 gold mining companies. You also can buy shares in mutual funds that hold some of the metal or in exchange-traded funds.
A convenient and popular way to invest is to buy one-ounce gold coins, such as the South African krugerrand, the Canadian maple leaf and the U.S. gold eagle, among others. They tend to cost roughly $30 to $40 more than spot gold.
Warning: Be cautious when choosing a coin dealer because markups vary and fraudulent sellers and false claims abound.
In sum, gold can be a worthwhile long-term investment, if you use it as part of a well diversified portfolio - and you have a cast-iron stomach.