At various times and in various places buying gold has been anything from extremely simple to near impossible. There have been times when it was illegal for a US citizen to own gold, for example, and there have been other times when the very coins of the country were made out of it, so that possession of $10 meant you had gold.
Now it's all got a little easier with the introduction of BullionVault. Essentially what they offer, in the firrst place, is a glod trading market open to individuals which provides the same thing the banks and the professionals have had for decades. A simple system of warehousing the gold so that when you buy, you can just get a certificate, you don't need to worry about taking physical delivery or transport or insuring it.
They've also got an extensive gold research section which can be extremely interesting. I love digging around in those sort of bits and pieces, sometimes you can come up with real nuggets of investment advice. And, of course, no such site or service is without gold charts. Hmm, perhaps I should have looked at that earlier: gold's jumped $29 intra day.
If you're interested in investing in gold this is an interesting place to start