The location and method you choose to store and secure your gold, silver and rare coins is a very personal matter. It's a decision that should be based upon your particular circumstances, concerns and intentions.

There are generally five recognized methods for storing gold – each with their outspoken champions and critics, and some with some very obvious risks. We certainly wouldn't advocate a particular method, and offer no legal advice on what might be best. But knowing what past and current owners might do may be of interest.

Obviously, there is no method that is a 100 percent guaranteed to protect and preserve your precious metals from anything that could happen. Nothing is fool proof and even if the chance is miniscule, a burglary, natural disaster, bad luck or even your own forgetfulness could still come between you (or your family) and your gold.

1) Bank Safe Deposit Box

You can easily store your prized and valued possessions in a safety deposit box for a nominal fee. Big banks and neighborhood banks may offer different layers of service, but generally you are not required to report on the contents of your safe deposit box. To many, the institution and protocol surrounding a safe deposit box make it the most secure and reassuring option. Others who fear or highly distrust the motives of these financial institutions argue vehemently against this method.

2) Private Depository

Much like a bank, a private depository is a business that stores and protects gold and precious metals and resources for private citizens, corporations, or other interests. Unlike a bank, they generally don't participate in other currency and lending practices. They maintain close ties with their clients and watch over the precious metals in their charge, but are often not located in the same city as their clients. The United States Gold Reserve maintains a list of depositories that it can recommend to interested parties.

3) Personal Safe in Your Home

Many buyers say they want to hold their gold close as a hedge or a backup plan to unexpected or dire financial threats. Or they just like to keep their assets closer at hand. Many of these owners will keep the gold in private safes – installed in the walls or floors of their homes. Common agreement holds that, if used, this method is most effective if the safes are both secure – able to resist force – and concealed in a place where a thief wouldn't look or visitors to your home would be unlikely to come across it.

4) Simply Hidden Within Your Home

A small amount of gold is still valuable, and may be easy to conceal in an unassuming place within your home. While this isn't particularly secure, the secret and unknown nature may serve as a level of protection. Of course, the risk of theft or discovery increases dramatically as more people know where this spot is, or that you have gold in your home. In addition to your family and friends, professional service, repair and cleaning workers might also easily stumble across a usually overlooked hiding place.

5) Buried Like Pirate Treasure

When they had no access to – or trust for – banks, bandits of the high seas would bury their gold in secret locales off – or near – their beaten paths. Even today, some gold owners prefer to buy secure canisters – resistant to moisture and the elements – and bury them in their own yards or property. The only possible security that could come from this is the secrecy that gold is even there, so this is often done at night, earning these individuals the nickname "midnight gardeners." There are many anecdotal tales of these modern day treasure hoarders who have forgotten the location of their buried gold or simply have their secret die with them.

A Caveat – Keep It Secret, But Not Too Secret

This last notion prompts a reminder that is important to keep in mind for all gold owners. As a general rule, it's probably best to keep your gold ownership to yourself. People are not tempted by what they don't know is there. Remember, if you tell one person, they may tell another person, and so on.

Of course, complete secrecy could mean that your gold doesn't successfully pass on to your heirs. Don't keep your gold so hidden that, in the event of your death, you risk that your family and heirs won't know about it, or how to locate it. Gold websites are full of cautionary and heartbreaking tales of modern hidden treasure that was lost when the owner passed away and there was no record of the gold's secure hiding place.