Di­a­mond em­pire built af­ter over­com­ing grief

Out­back woman sur­vives grief to forge new busi­ness sell­ing iconic pink di­a­monds syn­ony­mous with re­mote and rugged Kim­ber­ley land­scape

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

THERE is an old say­ing “pres­sure cre­ates di­a­monds”, and it’s a phrase that, quite lit­er­ally, sums up the tragic and tri­umphant life of out­back woman Frauke BoltenBosham­mer.

Within three years of up­root­ing her young fam­ily in Ger­many to shift to Ku­nunurra in West­ern Aus­tralia, her hus­band Friedrich died by sui­cide.

In strength she drew from her “stub­born Ger­man blood”, Frauke stayed on farm­ing in the Kim­ber­ley and bravely pur­sued an en­trepreneurial ca­reer sell­ing rare pink di­a­monds.

Her first sale, a neck­lace, was sold on her back porch. She then se­cured a dis­play cabi­net in a gift shop and later opened her own store.

To­day, she runs Kim­ber­ley Fine Di­a­monds from a 400-square-me­tre shop.

From deep de­spair, she built her­self a di­a­mond em­pire.

Her goods fetch thou­sands and have been sold to the likes of ac­tress Ni­cole Kid­man, who browsed in-store dur­ing the film­ing of Aus­tralia, and Hugh Jack­man.

It’s a tale wor­thy of a book, and now it is.

Work­ing with writer Sue Smethurst, Frauke put mem­o­ries in mo­tion and her life story A Di­a­mond in the Dust is now on sale.

This week the Ru­ral Weekly chat­ted to 71-year-old Frauke, just be­fore her lunch break at the Ku­nunurra busi­ness.

She has held on to her Ger­man ac­cent and over the phone she had a warmth matched by a strength.

In one breathe she could gush about her celebrity sales, then within an in­stant be just as quick to men­tion these stars are tough

ne­go­tia­tors and didn’t get any “spe­cial treat­ment” in her shop.

Even now, af­ter the lengthy process of writ­ing her book, the mother-of-five be­came emo­tional when speak­ing about why telling her story was vi­tal.

“I also lost my son (Peter),” she said.

“He died by sui­cide 15 years af­ter Friedrich.

“The main rea­son I wanted to get the book out there is be­cause there was a chance I could save one fam­ily from go­ing through the pain we had… My son was 20, he was young – hope­fully, hope­fully peo­ple get the mes­sage to talk more.”

GER­MANY SHIFT

Frauke moved to Ku­nunurra in 1981 af­ter much per­sua­sion from her hus­band.

“He was al­ways in­ter­ested in good land and good farm­ing and he had wanted to do some­thing on his own,” she said.

The fam­ily had a harsh start to the Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture in­dus­try.

They bought three farms off the mark and be­gan the hard slog pre­par­ing the prop­er­ties for crops.

“The first year we had to do so much work. The farms hadn’t been in use for a few years af­ter the cot­ton failed so there was a lot of weeds,” she said.

“The first crop was mung­beans and af­ter that we grew soy­beans. We tried some peanuts and then, in the end, be­fore he died, we had mel­ons: wa­ter­mel­ons and rock­mel­ons.”

The fam­ily moved to West­ern Aus­tralia with their chil­dren, Fritz (then aged 11), Mar­gret (then aged 10) and Peter, who was just a baby.

Soon enough their fourth child, Maria, was born. She was just 20 months old when Friedrich died.

Frauke found it hard to put in words how she over­came the tragedy of sui­cide.

“It was so very dif­fi­cult,” she said.

“I didn’t know what my fu­ture was and money was sparse.

“The grief was there and the shock was there – I didn’t know he would do that, that he had thought about it.

“But I had to get on. I had four kids, they needed to move on in life and I needed to be the strong one.”

Mov­ing home to Ger­many was an op­tion, but her chil­dren were set­tled and do­ing well in school.

“They en­joyed it here, and that’s why I didn’t go back,” she said.

In hind­sight, she says that was the right de­ci­sion to make.

In her book she shared fam­ily pho­tos, in­clud­ing snaps of her kids catch­ing mas­sive bar­ra­mundi and pos­ing with caught crocodiles.

HER EM­PIRE

Frauke had the idea of sell­ing di­a­monds many years be­fore she started her busi­ness.

When she moved to Ku­nunurra, the Argyle Di­a­mond Mine had not long

PHOTO: IS­TOCK

NEW START: Frauke said it was a cul­ture shock to move to the re­mote Kim­ber­ley re­gion in West­ern Aus­tralia from Ger­many.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

ABOVE: Friedrich worked tire­lessly plough­ing the con­crete earth get­ting it ready to sow.RIGHT: Fish­ing trip for Peter's 10th birth­day.FAR RIGHT: The farm in Ku­nunurra when the fam­ily ar­rived.

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