Rita became interested in making jewelry in the early 1970s when she took a silversmithing class through the local community college. By the mid-1970’s, she had developed an interest in ethnic and tribal beads and artifacts and began designing necklaces. In 1977-1978, Rita and the family lived abroad as Rita’s husband, David, a professor at UCLA, was on sabbatical leave. Rita always had a good eye for interesting items, but on this extended 14-month trip she was able to explore and buy from dealers in the souks of Israel and Egypt, flea markets in London, Paris and Vienna and from sellers in Hong Kong and China, Iran and India. During her travels, she searched for ancient and antique beads and pendants, for small antiquities and for unusual artifacts.
Upon returning to the U.S., Rita established her collection and focused, in particular, on designing necklaces using ancient and antique materials such as amazonite, amber, amethyst, coral, faience, glass, horn, ivory, jade, jet, shell and silver. She often combined these beads with a central pendant or several pendants, in designing ethnic, one-of-a-kind necklaces. She designed her own hand-made, sterling silver hook-and-eye clasps, which we still make available in our Clasps section. She continued to develop her bead expertise and became an active member and President of the Los Angeles-area Bead Society. Rita held trunk shows from her home showroom and displayed at the Los Angeles Gift Show, as well as consigning items to many local L.A. stores and boutiques, including Saks Fifth Avenue. Rita’s work and collection was featured in Ornament Magazine and she contributed beads to the editor, Robert Liu with his now classic book, “Collectible Beads.”
Rita traded with merchants from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and other parts of Africa for more than twenty-five years, providing her with an extensive and unusual collection of African Trade beads, as well as African wall hangings and wood carvings and masks. Rita’s collection grew as she continued to travel and live abroad over the years, including travels to Syria, Egypt, Israel, and Morocco. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Rita’s reputation continued to grow as a designer of original necklaces and as a dealer of exquisite ethnic and antique beads and artifacts.
Rita passed away from a long illness in 2005. Rita’s husband, David, built her website in 1999 with the assistance of a graduate student, and maintained it and the collection until 2008. The online store and collection are now managed by their daughter, Jocelyne, based in the San Diego area.
The beauty of Rita’s original creations and of her outstanding collection are reflected in our store and website. Our customers, both collectors and designers, come to us from around the world. We appreciate your business. Thank you for visiting the Rita Okrent Collection!
USPS First Class Shipping is FREE for all U.S. orders.
USPS First Class International Shipping is available for $14.00 for orders of less than $150 and is free for orders of $150 or more.
For China and India, we recommend USPS Priority Mail or Express Mail International, due to better tracking and reliability of delivery.
Let us know if you have questions regarding shipping - we are happy to help.
We will NOT use private shippers, freight forwarders or other private carriers to ship orders.
Note: if your order's shipping cost is less than we've charged you, we will credit you back for the difference, via your payment method.
Please contact us immediately in case of damage or loss during shipping. We will do everything we can to help you locate your package via USPS (or other shipper) tracking information. The Rita Okrent Collection is not responsible for lost items that are shipped via shipping methods that do not provide tracking. If you wish to return an item, please notify us within 30 days of receipt of the item, or 45 days of purchase, and then ship it back to us as soon as possible. Refunds are not available until the item has been returned to us.
At the Rita Okrent Collection, we want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase. Items purchased from the Rita Okrent Collection in sale-able condition can be returned for a full refund - please contact us within 30 days of receipt or 45 days of purchase to notify us with the reason for your return (via the website chat or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). You are responsible for return shipping and insurance to the Rita Okrent Collection. Please ship your purchase back to us as soon as possible in order to expedite your refund. Your refund will only be processed once we receive your purchase.
Please ship your purchases back to:
Rita Okrent Collection
1585 Hillsmont Drive
El Cajon, California 92020