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Suspecting that commodities markets are dangerous places driven by cut-throat professional investors and fund managers, most ordinary people assume that gold price and values of other precious metals have little to do with them. Although no one would advise you to jump into the gold market without more than a little training and practice, nevertheless even the average working person should keep track of gold prices, looking for ways to capitalize on today's record-high values. In November, 2009, gold reached its highest price in history, and experts predict gold prices will keep rising as long as the world's largest economies keep struggling.

Five ways to capitalize on increased gold prices

If you have control over investments in your tax sheltered annuity or your individual retirement account, move your assets into mutual funds that are tied to precious metals trading, because gold prices temporarily have dropped, but they promise to rise again and then sustain their value indefinitely. Moreover, recent history supports your decision to buy and hold precious metals mutual funds, because the price of gold has tripled in just a few years.

If you have old or damaged gold jewelry gathering dust in your jewelry box, sell it to a gold refiner for cash. You probably have seen television commercials and internet ads promising big money for your old jewelry. Although the advertisements may exaggerate the values and safety a little bit, they are fundamentally legit: you will receive handsome compensation for your old gold jewelry. You will get substantial reward for silver, and you will get the most for platinum.

If you need quick cash and you are strapped for assets and credit, similarly consider pawning or selling your old gold. Although you must accept the fact that wholesale gold prices and retail jewelry prices radically differ, you nevertheless can get the cash you need without paying high interest on credit card advances or payday loans.

If you plan to buy jewelry as a gift, first, expect to pay more than you have paid in the past; in fact, expect to pay considerably more for high-end gold pieces. But buy the very best jewelry you can afford, treating it as an investment and expecting it to become a family heirloom. High quality gold and precious stones will always stand out as your very best protection against inflation and economic uncertainty-what professional investors call "a good hedge." The rule of thumb for engagement rings has always been "the equivalent of three months' salary." Plan on spending at least that much, and plan on buying eighteen-carat gold instead of less expensive and therefore less valuable fourteen-carat jewelry. Similarly, if you can stretch to include rubies and sapphires in your jewelry, invest.

If you have money to invest for the long haul, work with a trustworthy commodities broker to secure gold. Although you never should invest all your money in any single instrument or product, radically diversifying instead, you should hold some precious metals in your portfolio. Precious metal investments protect you against big fluctuations in other markets; and typically gold prices rise when other markets fall, because demand for gold surges in the economic cycle's downturns. So check gold prices today and see if gold makes a good investment for you.

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