If you're a burgeoning gold bug, and you're looking to actually own some gold, instead of investing in a gold backed exchange traded fund, then you have a few different options to choose from. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. So, before you head out and buy yourself some gold, check out the different ways it's sold.
This form of gold is very popular with people who are into geology. The nuggets are the unrefined gold. They are how the gold looks when it is panned out of the river or mined out of the ground. There are a few things to know about buying gold nuggets. First, you are likely going to pay more than "spot" price since they are sold as collectables, not just for their gold weight. Secondly, you might find other rock in the nugget (namely quartz). So, you need to be aware of this when looking for gold. Also, photos can be very deceptive. A photo of a nugget in close up will give you not perspective on how it actually looks. When looking at nuggets, it's good to find sellers who will place it along side a dime or similar object for comparison.
When you think of gold, you often get the image of a heavy gold bar. And you can certainly find gold in huge bars, but it's not practical for most people (super expensive, and heavy). What you might want to get are the tiny little gold bars. These are small; instead of weighing pounds, they weigh grams. Some people even like to turn them into jewelry.
One of the most popular methods of buying physical gold is to buy gold bullion. These are coins that are designed not for use in everyday transactions, but instead, are minted strictly for people who want to own gold. There are gold bullion coins made in many different countries. The famous example is the South African Krugerrand, but there are also Canadian Maple Leafs, as well as the Gold Eagle from the United States.
Numismatic Cold Coins
These coins differ from gold bullion in that they were minted to be used as currency and were in circulation. To find numismatic gold coins, you're going to have to look on the collector market and search for old coins that were minted back during the California Gold Rush. The Liberty Head double eagle is a great example. It was a twenty dollar coin that was used in regular commerce.