Bright Side of (Downtown) Business: Howard Fine Jewellers brings the sparkle to Sparks St.

Members of Howard Fine Jeweller's jewellery manufacturing team, Grant, Jens, Stephanie Appotive, Saman, and Andrey (Photo by Zenith Wolfe)
Members of Howard Fine Jeweller's jewellery manufacturing team, Grant, Jens, Stephanie Appotive, Saman, and Andrey (Photo by Zenith Wolfe)
Editor's Note

The Bright Side of (Downtown) Business, presented by Star Motors, highlights business success stories in Ottawa’s downtown. 

Generations of secret proposals and surprise gifts are behind many of the rings, earrings and necklaces made by the international experts at Howard Fine Jewellers.

The business was established in 1967 by Howard Appotive, a watch salesman and jewelry manufacturer who loved helping people celebrate important milestones through his work. 

Appotive first set up shop on the east end of Sparks Street. Over the years, the store travelled down the block to a few other sites, landing in its current location at the corner of Bank Street in the early 2000s.

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Over 56 years, Howard Fine Jewellers has formed deep connections with its clients that keep them coming back. 

Stephanie Appotive, the current co-owner and the founder’s daughter, says she’s designed jewelry for the great-grandchildren of some of their earliest customers.

“Often we’re the first people to know when something special is happening. There’s many times, for instance with an engagement, where the bride-to-be has no idea — so my lips are often sealed,” she says. “You get to kind of be a part of somebody’s family in an indirect way.”

An on-site factory on the store’s second floor plays a big role in the multi-generational appeal. It allows Howard Fine Jewellers to tailor jewelry to the client’s needs; some rings, for example, are designed so the wearer can comfortably hold and swing a golf club without having to remove their jewelry. Rings can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $45,000, depending on aesthetic preferences and other factors.

“We try to really understand their lifestyle,” Stephanie says. The client sees a wax mould created by computer-rendering software before they commit to a style and model they like.

The store also employs a suite of jewelry-making masters from around the world. Since schools in Canada don’t have dedicated jewelry manufacturing programs, Stephanie says the current team includes goldsmiths from Sri Lanka and Germany, a gem-setter from Russia, and various other experts from South Africa, Hong Kong, Italy and beyond. 

In the past month, she’s hired two Canadian apprentices.

“My father’s always believed in a strong team and so have I,” Stephanie says. “At the end of the day, we all respect each other’s differences and we come together in a positive, collaborative and creative way.”

This culture has helped earn the respect of local residents. When Howard Fine Jewellers had to shut at the start of the pandemic and again during the “Freedom Convoy” protests last year, Stephanie says clients and their families called her personally to make sure she was safe.

Now that Howard Fine Jewellers is expanding to a third floor with the intent to finish construction in 2024, Stephanie hopes Ottawa will continue to stand by the business.

“The Ottawa community just has that backbone of loyalty,” she says. “That’s the key to our success — how loyal our clients are and how truly grateful we are for them.”

This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer. Since 1957, Star Motors has provided its customers with the Mercedes-Benz “The Best or Nothing” standard in vehicle selection, service, genuine parts and certified collision repair. For your convenience, you may shop, research, chat and compare vehicles online at, visit the 400 West Hunt Club location or call (613) 737-7827 for the very best in personal service.

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