Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Dabbling in Diamonds; Ipswich Lad Worked His Way to Top

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Dabbling in Diamonds; Ipswich Lad Worked His Way to Top

Article excerpt

Byline: Shannon Newley

WHEN former Ipswich man Ashley Portas got a job as a courier driver at the age of 17, he had no idea it would take him down a route where streets were lined with gold, diamond and gem merchants.

"My main patch was Elizabeth Street Brisbane, where all the gem, gold and diamond merchants were. I was introduced to this world that I didn't know existed, because I was a simple kid from Ipswich," the 34-year-old said.

Over time, he became friendly with the diamond merchants. He built up a close relationship with one business in particular. Ashley realised he did not just want to be a courier driver. He asked the diamond business that he had established a relationship with for a job.

The business hired Ashley to be an office boy. He had to change his work attire from casual shorts and a t-shirt to corporate, business suits.

Ashley sat next to a woman who had 30 years of experience in the diamond industry. Throughout the next four years she taught Ashley how to select diamonds, grade and sell diamonds.

"I started picking out diamond orders for jewellers - say choosing 20 or so diamonds for a wedding ring," he said.

"Eventually I started quoting on bigger stones, buying stones and importing from overseas. I learnt the whole diamond business; ordering, paying the bills, grading goods, selling goods."

Ashley listened to his colleague talk on the phone, he absorbed all of her expertise and knowledge. Suppliers got to know Ashley and trusted him.

"I ended up leaving that business; things were happening that didn't fit my values. I followed another passion and became a personal trainer."

"After a few months as a personal trainer I had a friend ask me to make their engagement ring, and then a few more. It inspired me to launch MAP Diamonds, my diamond wholesaling business."

Ashley went to India to buy diamonds. While he was gone, his employee called up all the clients and cancelled the deals.

Ashley returned with diamonds and no one to sell them to. …

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