While Shakespeare punishes his character in tragic-comedy The Merchant of Venice for choosing gold to win Portia's hand in marriage, "punishment" doesn't always happen in real life. In face, over the past decade commodity markets have richly rewarded investors who choose gold to "...gain what many men desire," as the Bard wrote in the play.

From June 2001 to June 2011 a troy ounce of gold appreciated by more than 450%. An ounce of gold's poor cousin, silver, appreciated by even more, that is 700% over that same period. Contrast that appreciation with the S&P 500 U.S. equity index that gained just under 8% (slightly more than 30%, if you include reinvested dividends) during that time. It's no wonder that investors' attention has focused more closely on precious metals than at any time in the past 30 years.

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