Gold has been a safe haven for investors for decades. Earlier in the year it crossed the $1,900 an ounce level after a multi-year run, however, over the past few months gold bullion has weakened, dropping to nearly $1,600 an ounce. Some investors would like to take advantage of lower gold prices and get into the market; those seeking to do so, should consider using exchange traded funds. Despite the drop in gold prices, gold ETFs have performed well this year and it can be argued they're at bargain prices. Let's take a look at a few of the best performing ETFs in the gold sector.

TUTORIAL: Commodities: Gold

Spider Gold Trust ETF
The Spider Gold Trust ETF (GLD) is an investment trust that holds gold assets and seeks to replicate the price of gold bullion on a daily basis. This exchange traded fund gives investors an easy way to invest in gold, without having to actually purchase the asset themselves. This ETF has retreated to the mid $160s after trading over $180 a share, just a month ago. Even with the pullback, the Gold Trust ETF has advanced almost 19% for the year, which is a better return than the S&P 500 index year, to date. (ETFs are a viable alternative to mutual funds, but before you invest, there are a few things you should know about. For more, see Using ETFs To Build A Cost-Effective Portfolio.)

ProShares Ultra Gold ETF
The ProShares Ultra Gold ETF is a unique exchange traded fund, in that it seeks to replicate the price of gold up to 200%. The ETF forgoes investing in the actual commodity itself and instead purchases futures contracts, options contracts and swap agreements. This exchange traded fund has increased risk, since it uses leverage to amplify returns; it can perform really well for investors when gold prices are rising day after day, and really poorly when gold prices are falling. The ProShares Ultra Gold ETF has increased over $20, this year alone, and returned almost 33% year to date.

iShares Gold Trust
The iShares Gold Trust (IAU), formerly known as the iShares COMEX Gold Trust, is one of the most popular precious metals ETFs on the market. iShares has built a reputation in the brokerage industry for its diverse offering of exchange traded funds. The investment trust purchases gold for the investment portfolio and sells baskets of shares, which trade in correspondence with the spot price of gold itself. The iShares Gold Trust has retreated from the $18 range of just two months ago and is a bargain at around $16 per share, having returned almost 18% so far this year.

PowerShares DB Gold Fund
The PowerShares DB Gold Fund (DGL) is a unique ETF that seeks to track the overall performance of the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index, Optimum Yield Gold Excess Return. The index specifically tracks changes that takes place in the gold sector, through futures contracts that are based on the price of gold. The fund has a 100% base weighting in gold assets. The PowerShares DB Gold Fund has performed well this year, rising $7 a share and generating close to an 18% return.

ETFS Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares
Investors who are looking for greater diversification amongst precious metals, may want take a look at the ETFS Physical Precious Metal Basket Shares (GLTR), which invests in gold, platinum, silver and palladium. The fund has retreated to $92 a share, from the $115 range last month, and has earned a modest return of about 8%, for the current year. (Despite their popularity, exchange traded funds have some drawbacks that investors should know about. For more, see 5 ETF Flaws You Shouldn't Overlook.)

The Bottom Line
There are a number of gold ETFs that have performed well for investors over the past year, and these top five make it clear that ETFs are a great addition to your portfolio. If gold prices remain high, then these funds should keep delivering the goods.

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