Investors have become increasingly keen on this precious metal over the last couple of years. It is seen as a safe haven in the face of growing economic uncertainties.
While the gold price has been relatively flat this year, some experts expect it to start rising again soon.
Dirk Wiedmann, head of investments at Rothschild Wealth Management, believes the investment environment is extremely positive for gold. He points out that the money being poured into Western economies by central banks is laying the foundation for a surge in inflation as a solution to the debt crisis in the West, which will cause investors to use gold to protect their wealth.
He said: "If concerns about bank failures get stronger, a break-up of the euro moves closer or investors lose confidence in Government bonds, the gold price could move much higher, eclipsing the record of $1900 per ounce set in September last year."
Sales of gold bullion coins to investors increased last year when the gold price was rising and they have remained steady ever since, say bullion dealers ATS Bullion, previously part of Spink, the coin dealer.
Managing director Sandra Conway said: "Most people are holding on to gold as a safeguard because they are worried about banks and they are worried about currencies."
Ms Conway says the most popular gold coin among investment buyers is the Krugerrand because it has the lowest premium – 5% – to the value of its gold content. A one-ounce coin currently costs £1082. British Sovereigns are also good sellers. Their price is influenced by the date of the coin but the typical cost at present would be £261 which includes an 8% premium above the value of the gold.
The number of gold dealers has mushroomed since the gold price started rising and many of them operate online. There is a list of reputable UK dealers on the World Gold Council's website. Most are London based, such as Harrods Bank, but several will send coins by post. ATS Bullion charges £10 for this service, which includes insurance. It will also buy coins back. At present it would pay £1018 for a Kruggerand, which represents a 6.5% spread between the buying and selling price.
One of the attractions of gold coins is that you own the actual metal rather than having an investment represented by a piece of paper. But if you keep the coins at home you will need to check they are covered by your home contents insurance.
The number of British consumers specifying items of gold on their home insurance policy has more than doubled over the past two years according to an analysis of home insurance quotes by Moneysupermarket.com, but it also found that many people do not bother to mention items of gold to their insurers. They warn that any high value items, or collections, worth more than £1500 need to be specified as insurers usually have a limit on payouts for single items. Investors who are not so concerned about holding physical gold could opt for a managed fund instead. The three main options are BlackRock Gold & General, Investec Global Gold and Smith & Williamson Global Gold & Resources. The top performer over the past five years was the BlackRock fund which has risen by more than 40%. These funds invest in the shares of gold mining companies.
Tony Stenning, head of UK retail at BlackRock, explains: "Over the long term gold mining shares track the gold price, but at times they are treated like any other share. Recently gold miners haven't followed the gold price but we believe this is one of the reasons they are looking attractive right now because there will be a re-rating."
Mr Stenning says there are other advantages in holding shares over the metal itself. "When you hold gold, you will benefit when you sell if the price has risen, but you won't get anything in between, whereas with company shares there are dividends. Another advantage is the leverage affect – if the gold price rises, companies' profits rise because the cost of production doesn't tend to change."
He says that gold holdings is a good way of diversifying your investments providing they don't make up more than around 5% of the total.
Investors who want a purer exposure to gold but would prefer not to hold it directly could buy ETFs (exchange traded funds) which hold gold bullion instead. Researchers at FE Analytics point out that investors in ETF Securities Physical Gold, ETF Securities Gold Bullion and iShares Gold Trust would have doubled their money since the last Olympics. These products returned 127% in sterling terms between August 8, 2008 and July 27, 2012, compared to a 35% return from BlackRock Gold & General. Rob Gleeson, head of FE research, explains: "In times of market uncertainty physical gold usually performs better than equities, which suffer from a flight to safety."
At Rothschild Wealth Management, Mr Wiedmann is holding large positions in gold for clients over the medium term. He sums up its attractions: "It is a tangible asset, a true safe haven and, best of all, its value cannot be eroded or easily manipulated by central banks."
For Olympic event winners, meanwhile, gold will be completely priceless.
Contextual targeting label: