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The Fastest Rising Asset Classes in 2023

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Fastest Rising Asset Classes in 2023

The Fastest Rising Asset Classes in 2023

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Many corners of the market have shown resilience despite persistent inflation and slowing economic growth in 2023. U.S. equities, international equities, and a variety of bonds have seen positive returns so far this year.

In the above graphic, we rank the top-performing asset classes to date with data from BlackRock.

Asset Class Performance, Ranked

Here’s how select asset classes have performed in 2023 as of May 31:

Asset Type2023 Return (as of May 31)10-Year Annualized Return
U.S. Equities9.8%11.9%
Europe Equities9.0%5.3%
Japan Equities8.8%5.3%
Investment Grade Credit2.8%1.6%
High Yield Bonds2.6%3.0%
Cash1.9%0.9%
Emerging Market Debt1.8%1.9%
Emerging Market Equities1.2%2.3%
Developing Market Gov. Debt0.9%-0.5%
Infrastructure0.8%6.1%
REITs-0.6%4.3%
Commodities-6.7%0.0%
China Equities-9.0%2.1%

After a troublesome 2022 for markets, you can see above that U.S. equities have rebounded the fastest in 2023. They are sitting at 9.8% returns year-to-date.

However, this has largely been a story of a few outperformers buoying the overall market. Nvidia with 159% returns, along with Meta (120%), Apple (36%), and Microsoft (37%) are among the companies with strong growth. Many of these companies are investing billions in artificial intelligence.

European equities, at 9% returns, have also seen steady performance. Investors have flocked to the market, given the tilt to value stocks during rising rates.

Globally, bonds fall roughly in the middle of the pack, while commodities have fallen 6.7% on the year so far. China’s equity market has faced headwinds amid strained economic ties with the U.S. and economic data falling under expectations.

Bull Market On the Horizon?

Tech funds saw a record $8.5 billion in weekly inflows as of May 31, 2023 driven by AI enthusiasm.

As investors pour into these megacap stocks, S&P 500 returns have rebounded almost 20% from their October lows, moving closer into bull market territory.

As it stands, investor optimism has increased across the broader market. The investor fear gauge hovered near its lowest point since February 2020. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) sank to 15, a significant drop from its average reading of 23 over the past year.

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Ranked: The World’s Top Diamond Mining Countries, by Carats and Value

Who are the leaders in rough diamond production and how much is their diamond output worth?

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A cropped chart showing the leaders in rough diamond mining and how much their diamond output is worth.

Ranked: World Diamond Mining By Country, Carat, and Value

Only 22 countries in the world engage in rough diamond production—also known as uncut, raw or natural diamonds—mining for them from deposits within their territories.

This chart, by Sam Parker illustrates the leaders in rough diamond production by weight and value. It uses data from Kimberly Process (an international certification organization) along with estimates by Dr. Ashok Damarupurshad, a precious metals and diamond specialist in South Africa.

Rough Diamond Production, By Weight

Russia takes the top spot as the world’s largest rough diamond producer, mining close to 42 million carats in 2022, well ahead of its peers.

ℹ️ Carat is the unit of measurement for the physical weight of diamonds. One carat equals 0.200 grams, which means it takes over 2,265 carats to equal 1 pound.

Russia’s large lead over second-place Botswana (24.8 million carats) and third-ranked Canada (16.2 million carats) indicates that the country’s diamond production is circumventing sanctions due to the difficulties in tracing a diamond’s origin.

Here’s a quick breakdown of rough diamond production in the world.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Production (Carats)
1🇷🇺 Russia41,923,910
2🇧🇼 Botswana24,752,967
3🇨🇦 Canada16,249,218
4🇨🇩 DRC9,908,998
5🇿🇦 South Africa9,660,233
6🇦🇴 Angola8,763,309
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe4,461,450
8🇳🇦 Namibia2,054,227
9🇱🇸 Lesotho727,737
10🇸🇱 Sierra Leone688,970
11🇹🇿 Tanzania375,533
12🇧🇷 Brazil158,420
13🇬🇳 Guinea128,771
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
118,044
15🇬🇾 Guyana83,382
16🇬🇭 Ghana82,500
17🇱🇷 Liberia52,165
18🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire3,904
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo3,534
20🇨🇲 Cameroon2,431
21🇻🇪 Venezuela1,665
22🇲🇱 Mali92
Total120,201,460

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated.

As with most other resources, (oil, gold, uranium), rough diamond production is distributed unequally. The top 10 rough diamond producing countries by weight account for 99.2% of all rough diamonds mined in 2022.

Diamond Mining, by Country

However, higher carat mined doesn’t necessarily mean better value for the diamond. Other factors like the cut, color, and clarity also influence a diamond’s value.

Here’s a quick breakdown of diamond production by value (USD) in 2022.

RankCountryRough Diamond
Value (USD)
1🇧🇼 Botswana$4,975M
2🇷🇺 Russia$3,553M
3🇦🇴 Angola$1,965M
4🇨🇦 Canada$1,877M
5🇿🇦 South Africa$1,538M
6🇳🇦 Namibia$1,234M
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe$424M
8🇱🇸 Lesotho$314M
9🇸🇱 Sierra Leone$143M
10🇹🇿 Tanzania$110M
11🇨🇩 DRC$65M
12🇧🇷 Brazil$30M
13🇱🇷 Liberia$18M
14🇨🇫 Central
African Republic
$15M
15🇬🇾 Guyana$14M
16🇬🇳 Guinea$6M
17🇬🇭 Ghana$3M
18🇨🇲 Cameroon$0.25M
19🇨🇬 Republic of Congo$0.20M
20🇨🇮 Cote D'Ivoire$0.16M
21🇻🇪 Venezuela$0.10M
22🇲🇱 Mali$0.06M
Total$16,290M

Note: South Africa’s figures are estimated. Furthermore, numbers have been rounded and may not sum to the total.

Thus, even though Botswana only produced 59% of Russia’s diamond weight in 2022, it had a trade value of nearly $5 billion, approximately 1.5 times higher than Russia’s for the same year.

Another example is Angola, which is ranked 6th in diamond production, but 3rd in diamond value.

Both countries (as well as South Africa, Canada, and Namibia) produce gem-quality rough diamonds versus countries like Russia and the DRC whose diamonds are produced mainly for industrial use.

Which Regions Produce the Most Diamonds in 2022?

Unsurprisingly, Africa is the largest rough diamond producing region, accounting for 51% of output by weight, and 66% by value.

RankRegionShare of Rough
Diamond Production (%)
Share of Rough
Diamond Value (%)
1Africa51.4%66.4%
2Europe34.9%32.9%
3North America13.5%52.8%
4South America0.2%2.4%

However diamond mining in Africa is a relatively recent phenomenon, fewer than 200 years old. Diamonds had been discovered—and prized—as far back as 2,000 years ago in India, later on spreading west to Egyptian pharaohs and the Roman Empire.

By the start of the 20th century, diamond production on a large scale took off: first in South Africa, and decades later in other African countries. In fact between 1889–1959, Africa produced 98% of the world’s diamonds.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, the term blood diamond evolved from diamonds mined in African conflict zones used to finance insurgency or crime.

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