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