In the very early 1970s, gold was trading for $35 an ounce; in January 1980, it reached what was then an all-time high of $850 per ounce. During the 1980s, the price of gold plummeted, falling 52% (vs. a 222% gain in the S&P 500). In the 1990s, gold dropped another 29% (vs. a 314% gain in the S&P). By August 2011, gold was selling for $1,900 an ounce (vs. $270 in January 2000).
In February 2013, the price was $1,660. Gold is often considered a “constancy measurement of value.” For example, in 1971, an ounce of gold ($35) bought 15 barrels of oil; in 1981 an ounce ($480) of gold also bought 15 barrels of oil. In April 2013, an ounce of gold bought slightly more than 15 barrels of oil.