To my knowledge there is only one group of precious metals ETFs, managed by Swiss Zuercher Kantonalbank (ZKB) – sorry, no English language information found – that always holds the 4 fund’s funds in 100% gold, silver, platinum or palladium. This limits the only risk to the size of cash holdings that are unavoidable for short periods when the ETFs adjusts bullion holdings during trading hours.
I have checked a few other liquid European and US ETFs, but this appears to be the only safe way to own allocated gold besides holding it physically. Within the European Union there appear to be no restrictions to buy/hold/sell these ETFs, others please check local regulations.
GRAPH: Read from this gold chart whatever technical indicators you prefer. The fundamentals have never been stronger for a long gold strategy. Chart courtesy of kitco.com
Read more about investing in gold here at wikinvest.
Most, if not all other precious metals ETF/ETC come with some sort of a counter party risk.
Checking the prospectus (PDF)of global heavyweight SPDR , risk factors beginning on page 10 give room to “don’t blame me, blame the next one in the food chain” finger-pointing games like this quote from page 13,
If The Trust’s gold bars are lost, damaged stolen or destroyed under circumstances rendering a party liable to the Trust, the responsible party may not have the financial resources sufficient to satisfy the Trust’s claim.