Only the most sadistic of traders would want to make the choice, but if you believe the yellow metal is done falling, and you're made of sterner stuff, the choice could reap dividends.
The world's largest gold-backed fund (trading under the symbol GLD) has taken a 12 percent hit in the last three months and is down for the year as is gold itself.
Meanwhile, though the gold miners ETF (trading under the symbol GDX) rallied 4 percent on Thursday, it traded at a record low of $16.45 per share on Wednesday. The GDX is down 34 percent in the last 90 days.
So if investors had to choose one, which would it be – the GLD or the GDX?
The GLD is safer, though perhaps not as potentially lucrative, compared with the GDX in the short term, according to David Seaburg, head of equity sales trading at Cowen and Company.
"There's a trade in gold here, and I think the trade is for a short-term pop to the upside," Seaburg said. That pop could come because he sees positions in long U.S. dollar/short gold to be "crowded" right now. So, how investors would take advantage of a temporary reversal would depend on their risk appetite.
"The GLD I like as a more conservative approach to it," Seaburg said. "The GDX is a much more leveraged to it. It's really based on your risk perspective."
However, the long-term prospects for gold remain bleak, if he is correct. "You're going to see the dollar index continue to go higher," Seaburg said. "However, there's really no inflation in sight. People are talking deflation. So the longer-term prospects for gold in my opinion are not good."
But buying into gold may not be the best idea if the chart work of one leading technical analyst is to be believed.
"From a long-term perspective, the primary trend is lower on gold," said Craig Johnson, senior technical analyst at Piper Jaffray and president of the Market Technicians Association.
Johnson likens the current environment to the peak in gold during a breakout in bonds and equities in the early 1980s. "If history is going to rhyme and perhaps even repeat with what we've seen in the past," he said, "gold is not going to work. The best days are behind us for gold."
He said that the GLD recently broke below key support and may be headed down further. "We've been looking for about $100 on that particular ETF and we think that's going to be achieved," he said. "We're a seller of gold because we think a lot more downside is still yet to be had."