I am subscriber to Harry Browne's permanent portfolio. With all of the uncertainty in the world, it is good to have some of your investments safe and sound, or at least as safe as possible. The permanent portfolio is set up to weather any type of financial storm and it has done its job well.
With that said, I think it is ok to speculate with a portion of your money, as long as you can afford to lose it. Right now, I think the best speculations (in my opinion) are in non-dollar assets. The federal government (along with state and local governments) is piled high in debt with no end in sight. The only solution coming out of DC is more money creation. This is bearish for the U.S. dollar.
For your permanent portfolio, your gold portion should be in assets that correlate directly to the price of gold. You can actually buy the metal in coin form, you can buy certificates that are redeemable in gold, and you can buy an ETF (symbol: GLD). However, for your speculative investments, gold stocks are a more interesting play. There is more leverage and more risk. But the rewards can also be far greater.
An interesting exchange traded fund (ETF) that you might want to look at is GDXJ. It is made up of junior mining stocks. It is a good way to get some exposure to this sector. It is a risky sector as many junior mining companies never really get off the ground and make a profit. But they can also be very profitable. This ETF is a way to get exposure to junior mining stocks while also spreading your risk around.
This is an investment that could easily go down 50% or more in a stock market or gold market downturn. On the other hand, if gold goes up 20%, you could easily see this ETF more than double. The good thing about it as a speculation is that you can liquidate it quickly. It trades just like a stock and you can buy it with almost any online brokerage account. When you are ready to take profits, you can sell it in minutes or less.
Again, you should not mix this with your permanent portfolio. This is a speculative investment as a play against the U.S. dollar and for gold. You can review GDXJ here.