Stephanie and Lindsay Appotive are the second generation taking charge of the well-loved local fine jewellery stores Howard Fine Jewellers and True Bijoux. Located a few steps from Parliament Hill, the Bank of Canada and the House of Commons, these two local gems shine brightly. The sisters embrace the 55-year legacy they are entrusted with as Ottawa’s most trusted jeweller. A family business that expresses a deep appreciation for its client relationships, and a love of fine craftsmanship and design, it is a perfect recipe for creating beautiful jewellery.
First opening its doors in 1967, Howard, a multi-faceted experience of jewellery and watches, is now well established in its flagship store at the historic corner of Bank and Sparks. Beyond the luxurious showroom, you will find a world-class, on-site custom jewellery factory, gemmological laboratory, authorized Rolex service centre, jewellery repair and restoration department. A hive of activity happens behind the scenes as the passionate group of master jewellers, gemmologists, diamond brokers, watchmakers and designers work in concert.
Strolling by the store’s grand building and elaborate window displays, you might think that Howard only caters to a certain price point and above, but nothing could be further from the truth. The sisters love to say that “nothing is ever too small or too big for us,” and between the two stores, they do everything from sterling silver to platinum, from lab-grown diamonds to the rarest of natural-coloured diamonds. “We want to be a part of our clients’ jewellery journey, and that really means we are here for everything—whether someone needs a broken chain fixed, a ring to be cleaned and checked (a complimentary service) or help to select a magnificent celebration piece,” says Stephanie.
Experts in all things jewellery
“With a lot of clients being inspired by Instagram and Pinterest, we have many conversations about why a design online may not be the right choice for an everyday piece,” Stephanie affirms. “We love working from a client’s inspiration, and we rely on our master jewellers’ skills to translate that inspiration into a piece made with the highest structural integrity, ensuring each piece can shine for generations.”
An expert in the field, Howard also has diamond and gemstone brokers in-house with special access to an international diamond bourse that has every imaginable diamond combination of the four Cs: cut, colour, clarity and carat. Meet one-on-one at Howard with an expert who can advise and collaborate with you to create your dream piece. Clients can rest assured that in choosing to support a family-owned, local business, they are still getting competitive pricing.
Adding to their repertoire in 2006, the family opened True Bijoux to reach more jewellery lovers in a more eclectic way. A lover of all jewellery, Lindsay presides over the carefully curated wonderland of vintage pre-owned, affordable engagement rings, including lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, sapphires and a large collection of unique jewellery. “I love creating magic,” she says. “I love mixing fine and semi-fine together; it is playful, and I believe jewellery should be fun.”
A family tradition
It’s not just the Appotive sisters working in the stores, either. Now, well into their 70s, their father and mother—Howard and Sharron—love to come to work whenever they can. “We’re very grateful, and we always have been, because not everybody gets to work side by side with their parents,” Lindsay says. “It’s a different dynamic to have with your parents and one that allows you to appreciate them in a different light as experts.” The sisters have also had the fortune of working with their uncle David and aunt Sharon, making it a true family business.
Stephanie shares a memory of her father sitting in his office at his computer with his toddler grandson in his lap. “I just happened to walk by, and there was my dad with my son. My dad was fully explaining to him as he would an adult why he would buy this diamond and not that one,” she says. “I remember my father teaching my sister and me when we were little, so it was the sweetest moment to see history repeating itself right before my eyes. My father has always been a wonderful teacher and believed that you’re never too young to learn.”
Aside from getting to work together every day, the sisters’ favourite thing about the jewellery world is their bond with their clients. Jewellery holds a special meaning, often marking a milestone. “We have the privilege of being invited into these very personal celebrations,” says Stephanie. “We forge very close connections, and I often tear up when people share their stories with me. I can feel the love and sometimes the pain.”
The sisters acknowledge that it might be a little intimidating coming into Howard. Sometimes the added security gets mistaken for formality. Stephanie emphasizes that all are welcome, and if you come in, you’ll see how warm everyone really is. “We don’t want you to feel like you have to dress up to come and see us,” she says. “Just come as you are, straight from the gym or right off the job site. It’s our home; we want to invite you in.” Chances are you’ll be greeted by the Appotive family or by a team member who has worked at the store for years—Lindsay and Stephanie’s “extended family.” The store is even dog-friendly, welcoming all pooches, no matter the size.
To see what it’s all about for yourself, pop over to the Sparks Street stores. Or, look at the selection of jewellery from the comfort of your home by visiting Howard and True Bijoux online and staying up to date with their Instagram or Facebook profiles.