Investors concerned about the Federal Reserve's interest rate policy and the U.S.-China trade dispute should take a stake in gold here, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Friday as stocks slid for the first time in six days.
"If you're looking for an insurance policy against volatility and economic uncertainty, gold is a great way to go," he told investors. "While I like the stock market here, as you know, now that the Fed has decided to be more patient, the whole point of diversification is to be prepared in case something goes wrong ... and your thesis doesn't pan out."
The precious metal traded to roughly $1,288 per ounce on Friday, inching higher after gaining 5 percent during December's sell-offs. But in Cramer's opinion, buying actual gold in the form of bars or coins isn't the best way to get exposure.
"Unless you can afford to buy actual gold bars and store them in a depository bank, I don't recommend owning the actual metal," he said on "Mad Money." "Most gold coins are sold as a significant markup, especially if you go to a coin dealer, and they're not that liquid — it's not like you can sell a gold coin all that easily through a brokerage account."
Instead, Cramer recommended getting direct exposure through the SPDR Gold Shares Fund, his favorite gold-based exchange-traded fund, a gold-mining ETF, or the stock of a high-quality gold producer like Barrick Gold.
The SPDR Gold Shares Fund and gold-mining ETFs can be beneficial because they reduce risk and inconvenience, Cramer said. The former, for example, owns physical gold so you don't have to, while gold-mining ETFs group risky mining stocks together to hedge against single-stock, or single-mine, risk.
"It's definitely worth keeping an eye on" as the two companies perfect their combination, the "Mad Money" host said. "The company has the lowest total cash costs among its peers — I like that — [and] it has a nicely diversified portfolio of assets across the world — I love that."
All in all, now may not be the ideal time to invest in gold, but adding some shine to your portfolio isn't a bad move, Cramer concluded.
"No, this is not the perfect time to buy gold, but I always advocate owning at least a little as insurance against the unknown," he said.
"We know gold's a winner in times of chaos and uncertainty, so if you're feeling a little bit worried about your portfolio, you might want to buy the GLD, or one of the gold-mining ETFs, or the new Barrick Gold," he continued. "For the prudent, I recommend waiting until Barrick reports its first quarter as a combined company, even though I like the merger very much now that [former Randgold CEO] Mark Bristow's in charge."