Kara Navra makes jewelry from precious gems she grows at home: "I make keepsake jewelry out of living plants."

The colors of her creations outshine rubies and emeralds.

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Necklace by Apotheca Design
Erickson, Anne

"There's just no end to the color, the painting possibilities that flowers give you,” she said as she gathered her raw materials from a container on the front porch of her home on San Juan Island.

Succulents, seedpods and other growing things take on a new life once she snips them from their stems.

She sells her living jewelry at the Friday Harbor Farmer's Market. "The rings at the farmers market are the most popular, they've got a great price point, they're like a mini terrarium on your finger, people love them!" Navra laughed. Her rings cost twenty dollars.

She also sends rings, necklaces, headbands and bracelets off-island, through her company Apotheca Design. They're very popular for weddings and baby showers.

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Succulent bracelet by Apotheca Design
Erickson, Anne

"It's a special thing to get a piece like this and have it last so long and be able to replant it once it's grown off its backing; it makes that event that much more memorable," said Navra.

There were some trial and error at first - succulents are not as tough as diamonds. “I scorched plants, I overcrowded them, I dried them out,” she laughed.

Today, Kara shares what she's learned by teaching jewelry making workshops.

Living Jewelry Workshop
Kara Navra (L) teaches a living jewelry workshop at her home on San Juan Island
Erickson, Anne

The tiny, perfect pieces won't last forever. The succulents eventually outgrow their settings.

"When you are ready to take the piece off, the whole piece just comes off as a whole so you can just plant that in a little bit of garden soil."

The succulent will take root and keep growing. And that's the most beautiful thing about this jewelry.

“I just like that it's definitely going to go back into the ground. It's living. I love that.”

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