A wise old man once told me that when I came of age I must forge close relationships with three important people: my barber; my banker; and my jeweller.
"Any one of them would cut your throat if you don't know them well enough," he said with a knowing tap of his nose.
In today's market it is the third member of that group, the jeweller, who would prove most useful as long as you can trust him.
The price of gold has fallen so far in the past week that many people may be thinking of investing in a few ounces, or even kilos. Gold jewellery is most people's first choice when it comes to gold investment. The trouble is, if you don't know your jeweller you can never be sure how pure the metal you are buying actually is. All gold used for jewellery is mixed with base metals such as silver and copper, and you can never be too sure of the proportions used.
For true investment purposes you can visit a mint house to buy ingots, bars or bullion coins of investment grade gold, known as four-nine in the trade due to the fact that it is 99.99 per cent pure gold. Even then, however, you should have the gold tested by a reputable third-party assaying office, just to be on the safe side.
For a less hands-on approach you can play the gold market like any other investment class, such as stocks or bonds, by engaging a broker to buy spot gold for you, to invest in a gold fund such as an ETF, or you could invest in a hedge fund that specialises in precious metals.