Investing in Gold: Real Gold vs Gold Bonds vs Gold Mutual Funds

Investing in gold has been a popular choice for centuries, offering a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainties. However, with the advent of modern financial instruments, investors now have multiple options to gain exposure to the gold market. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the differences, performance over the years, benefits, and drawbacks of investing in real gold, gold bonds, and gold mutual funds.

Real Gold: The Traditional Investment Option


Real gold, in the form of jewelry, coins, or bars, has been a traditional investment choice for many. Let’s examine the key aspects of investing in physical gold.

Storage and Insurance Costs

  • Investors must bear the costs associated with storing their gold in a safe place and insuring it against theft or damage.
  • These additional expenses can add up over time and impact the overall returns from the investment.

Liquidity Concerns

  • Selling physical gold can be a time-consuming process, as investors need to find a reliable buyer and may require authentication.
  • This can impact the liquidity of the investment, making it challenging to convert gold into cash quickly when needed.

Purity and Quality

  • When purchasing physical gold, investors must be cautious about the purity and quality of the gold they are buying.
  • It is essential to ensure that the gold is purchased from a reputable source to avoid any issues related to authenticity or purity.

Tax Implications

  • Short-term capital gains (if the gold is held for less than 36 months) are taxed as per the investor’s income tax slab.
  • Long-term capital gains (if the gold is held for more than 36 months) are taxed at 20% with indexation benefits.

Real Gold Price Trend

Year Price (per 10 grams)
2010 Rs. 18,500
2012 Rs. 31,050
2014 Rs. 28,006
2016 Rs. 28,623
2018 Rs. 31,438
2020 Rs. 48,651
2022 Rs. 52,670
2024 Rs. 73750

The table above shows the price trend of real gold over the past decade. Gold prices have shown an overall upward trajectory, with some fluctuations along the way.

Gold Bonds: A Modern Investment Avenue

Gold bonds, such as Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) issued by the government, offer investors an alternative way to invest in gold without the need for physical ownership.

Hassle-Free Ownership

  • One of the key advantages of investing in gold bonds is the elimination of storage and insurance costs.
  • SGBs are held in a demat account, providing a hassle-free ownership experience for investors.

Regular Interest Income

  • SGBs offer investors an annual interest rate, typically around 2.5%, which is paid semi-annually.
  • This regular interest income enhances the overall returns from the investment, making gold bonds an attractive option for income-seeking investors.

Tax Efficiency

  • Capital gains from SGBs are treated as long-term capital gains if the bonds are held until maturity, which is typically eight years. These gains are exempt from tax.
  • If the bonds are sold before maturity, the capital gains are taxed at 20% with indexation benefits.

Liquidity through Stock Exchange Trading

  • SGBs are listed and traded on stock exchanges after a short lock-in period, typically five years.
  • This provides investors with the flexibility to sell their bonds in the secondary market if they require liquidity before maturity.

Gold Bond Price Trend

Series Issue Price (per gram) Interest Rate
SGB 2016-17 Series I Rs. 2,901 2.75%
SGB 2018-19 Series II Rs. 3,214 2.50%
SGB 2020-21 Series IV Rs. 4,852 2.50%
SGB 2022-23 Series I Rs. 5,091 2.50%

The table above showcases the issue prices and interest rates of select Sovereign Gold Bond series over the years. The issue prices are linked to the prevailing gold prices at the time of issuance, while the interest rates have remained relatively stable.

Gold Mutual Funds: Diversification and Convenience

Gold mutual funds, including Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and gold-focused funds, offer investors a convenient way to gain exposure to the gold market through a diversified portfolio.

Diversified Exposure

  • Gold mutual funds invest in a range of gold-related assets, such as physical gold, gold mining companies, and gold futures contracts.
  • This diversification helps mitigate the risk associated with investing in a single asset and provides investors with broader exposure to the gold market.

Enhanced Liquidity

  • Unlike physical gold, gold mutual funds can be easily bought and sold through mutual fund platforms or stock exchanges.
  • This enhanced liquidity allows investors to quickly enter or exit their investments based on their financial needs and market conditions.

Cost-Effective Investment

  • Investing in gold mutual funds is generally more cost-effective compared to buying and storing physical gold.
  • The expense ratios of gold mutual funds typically range from 0.5% to 1%, which is lower than the costs associated with storing and insuring physical gold.

Accessible to Small Investors

  • Gold mutual funds offer a low entry barrier for investors, with the option to invest through Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) starting from as low as Rs. 500 per month.
  • This accessibility makes gold mutual funds an attractive option for small investors who want to participate in the gold market.

Gold Mutual Fund Performance

Fund Name 1-Year Return 2-Year Return 5-Year Return
Nippon India Gold Savings Fund 19.57% 18.85% 16.57%
SBI Gold Fund 19.63% 19.09% 16.08%
Kotak Gold Fund 19.4% 18.77% 16.8%
HDFC Gold Fund 18.81% 18.8% 16.7%

Also read – Top Gold Mutual Funds in India: A Guide for Gold Investors [2024 Updated]

The table above presents the performance of select gold mutual funds over different time periods. The returns are indicative of the funds’ performance and can vary based on market conditions and the fund manager’s investment strategy.


Investing in gold offers a range of options, each with its own merits and considerations. Real gold provides tangible ownership but comes with storage and liquidity challenges. Gold bonds offer a convenient and tax-efficient alternative, with the added benefit of regular interest income. Gold mutual funds provide diversification, liquidity, and accessibility, making them suitable for a wider range of investors.

When deciding between these investment options, investors should carefully evaluate their financial goals, risk tolerance, investment horizon, and liquidity requirements. It is also crucial to consider the historical performance and trends of each investment option to make an informed decision.

Ultimately, a well-diversified investment portfolio that includes a mix of real gold, gold bonds, and gold mutual funds can help investors navigate the complexities of the gold market and achieve their long-term financial objectives.

DIsclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as financial advice. The data, figures, and returns mentioned are subject to change without notice. Before making any investment decisions, conduct thorough research, assess your financial goals, risk tolerance, and consult with a qualified financial advisor. Investing in gold, gold bonds, or gold mutual funds involves inherent risks, and past performance does not guarantee future results. The author and publisher of this article do not assume any responsibility for investment decisions made based on the content of this article.