Jewelry that’s nutty and fruity — but also is oh-so-pretty

Bothell designer makes sustainable necklaces and earrings to help artisans in her native Colombia.

Viviana Rizo, owner of Seeds and Stones Handmade Jewelry, shows off a necklace made with tagua nuts at the Fall Home Show in Xfinity Arena on Oct. 27. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Viviana Rizo, owner of Seeds and Stones Handmade Jewelry, shows off a necklace made with tagua nuts at the Fall Home Show in Xfinity Arena on Oct. 27. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Home shows have branched out from the usual army of appliances, free yardsticks and great deals on gutters. These are also a marketplace of vendors peddling everything from ostrich jerky to stun guns.

What stunned me at the recent show at Xfinity Arena was a booth with a colorful display of fruits and nuts that were pretty enough to wear.

It was in the form of earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

What’s up with that?

Designer Viviana Rizo transforms orange peels and pistachio shells into chic jewelry.

These aren’t those crafty wonders your first-grader makes at school that you are proudly yet guilted into wearing.

These are polished blings and rings, with many items selling for less than $20.

It’s organic, sustainable and it smells good. Despite being coated, a fragrance lingers.

The scent is subtle, not overpowering. You don’t walk around smelling like you’ve just squeezed a juicy orange.

Rizo, 37, started VR Seeds & Stones in the Bothell home she shares with her husband, Juan, 42, a hospital maintenance worker, and their two sons, ages 3 and 16.

She has a table in Pike Place Market’s business incubator Ventures store and recently began selling at gift and craft shows. She’ll be at Thomas Family Farm in Snohomish, MOPS Boutique in Everett and Monroe’s Olde St. Nick’s Christmas Market this month.

Look for the gleaming earrings made from sliced banana pulp and bold necklaces curated from tagua nuts.

Google “real fruit jewelry” and lots of things pop up on Etsy and Pinterest that look fruity and nutty. These don’t.

It’s an international family affair, drawing on the talents of Rizo’s mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law in her native country of Colombia.

“Behind each jewel, there’s a story of an artisan woman who we are able to support with our project,” Rizo explained with the help of a translator. She moved to Washington four years ago and is still learning to speak English.

After her second child was born three years ago, she decided to pursue a business connecting her with her heritage.

“Since childhood, I witnessed how my mother’s dedication and inspiration paid off, giving her the chance to create unique and beautiful pieces,” she said. “All the hard work and passion I saw in my mother became my inspiration today; an inspiration that I share with a passion for creating unique handmade jewelry using natural and handpicked materials.”

Gems include berries, seeds, coffee beans and nuts in matching necklace and earring sets. Items also can be purchased separately.

Everything is crafted by hand.

It might take several days for her sister-in-law in Colombia to make a pair of earrings from cantaloupe seeds. The seeds are dried, painted, then beaded together to form a flower shape.

Pieces of tagua nuts, a palm tree nut known as vegetable ivory, are prepared in Colombia and shipped here for her to assemble into fashion accessories.

Rizo uses local products, such as bananas and oranges from the grocery store, to create jewelry from scratch. It’s more complicated than just cutting up fruit and sticking in earring hooks.

There are many steps to turning pulp and peels into jewelry. It starts in the kitchen and spills over to the living room.

“We cut the banana and slice it. We fry it. We use a natural stain and put a lacquer over it,” her husband said. “We core the orange, take off the white meat and then we dry the orange peel and makes roses or balls. We have many kinds of forms.”

Açai berries, strung together like beads, are often used in bracelets and necklaces with orange peel accents.

It’s all sealed and preserved. So, no, you can’t eat it.

Head to the booth with ostrich jerky for that.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Buy fruit and nut jewelry

Here’s where to find VR Seeds & Stones in November:

Artisans Holiday Fair: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 11, Thomas Family Farm, 9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish.

Snohomish Holiday Market: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 18, Thomas Family Farm, 9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish.

MOPS Boutique: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 18, New Life Church, 6830 Highland Drive, Everett.

Olde St. Nick’s Christmas Market: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24 and Nov. 25, Evergreen State Fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave. SE, Monroe.

More at www.facebook.com/vrseeds.stones; www.instagram.com/vrseeds.stones; vrseeds.stones@gmail.com and 425-492-5112.

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