The story of Howes Diamond Jewelers began when Bill Howes was working at a retail store while in high school. It was at this time he realized he enjoyed working with people. Shortly after his tour of duty with the United States Navy Bill enrolled in classes at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where he took classes in watch making and jewelry repair. Upon completion he became an apprentice for a local independent jeweler in downtown La Crosse. It was his entrepreneurial spirit that influenced Bill to open his first store January, 1964. The store was located in an upstairs location of a downtown La Crosse building with a diamond inventory of $600.00. He survived the first year in business by doing repair work for other stores.
After the first year, business warranted a more visible location so he rented a street level space on Jay Street. In 1970, he bought the building next door and remodeled it to become the home of Howes Diamond Jewelers for almost 40 years. Bill is a licensed watchmaker in the state of Wisconsin.
Jan Howes started out as a behind the scenes partner doing book keeping and working on the sales floor. Then in 1975, Jan became very active in the business learning every aspect of the industry.
Having one successful store was the impetus for considering a second location. Not wanting to be in competition with themselves, they decided to have a distance between stores. In 1981, they bought a store in Red Wing, Minnesota from someone wanting to retire.
Photo: Howes Diamond Jewelers located in downtown Red Wing, Minnesota.
Son, Dan Howes, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology. He moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he found a job in that industry, but just couldn’t seem to find his niche. He worked part time in a Madison jewelry store, which made him realize that he missed the jewelry business. His experience working at his parents La Crosse store during high school and college inspired him to move back to the La Crosse area. In 1998, Dan joined the family business.
Photo: Dan Howes behind the counter at the Village Shopping Center location.
Howes Diamond Jewelers is a member of the Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO), which is the largest jewelry buying group in the world, with 850 independent members. This allows us the opportunity to buy direct as a group, which affords us the opportunity to make extraordinary diamond and jewelry purchases. Even though we buy as a group, Howes Diamond Jewelers makes their own buying decisions.
Today, Howes Diamond Jewelers continues to grow. In September 2008, the La Crosse store moved from the Jay Street location to the newly remodeled location on the corner of 4th & Main Street, with our own parking lot. The new location tripled in showroom size, allowing us to expand our bridal department.
Both stores offer designer lines of engagement rings and wedding bands; styles you won’t see at any other store within our trade area. In addition, we have many styles of anniversary rings, diamond pendants, diamond earrings, unique collection of 14Kt. Gold and sterling silver necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
Photo: The Howes Diamond Jewelers location in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin.