The Fascinating Tale of Fordite: A Gem Born from Detroit's Automotive Legacy

| 3 min read

The Fascinating Tale of Fordite: A Gem Born from Detroit's Automotive Legacy

We're super excited to announce that JM finally have Fordite on the show! Take a read of our blog to learn all about this exciting gem, that our sales manager, Wayne, has been trying to get for years!

Fordite, also known as "Detroit agate" or "motor agate," is a unique and captivating gemstone with a rich history deeply rooted in the automotive industry. Unlike traditional gemstones that are mined from the Earth, Fordite is a man-made creation born from the paint layers that accumulated in automobile factories over several decades. This vibrant and colourful material has evolved from a by-product of manufacturing into a sought-after and distinctive gemstone.

History of Fordite:

The story of Fordite begins in the heyday of American automobile production during the mid-20th century. In the bustling car factories of Detroit, as automotive assembly lines operated day and night, overspray and drips from the paint booths accumulated on fixtures like tracks, racks, and skids. Over time, these layers of paint built up, creating hardened deposits that had to be periodically removed to keep the equipment functioning smoothly.

Craftsmen and workers in the automobile plants noticed the beauty of these layered paint deposits and started collecting them. Initially seen as a nuisance to be discarded, it didn't take long for these colourful formations to catch the eyes of artists and artisans. The collected paint layers were cut, shaped, and polished into stunning pieces, revealing a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns.

Properties of Fordite:

Colourful Palette:

Fordite is celebrated for its vibrant and diverse colour palette. The layers of paint, each representing a different coat applied during the painting process, result in a stunning display of hues. From deep reds and blues to bright yellows and greens, Fordite exhibits a wide range of colours, making each piece unique.

Patterns and Designs:

The layering of paint in Fordite creates intricate patterns and designs. These can include swirls, stripes, and even dendritic formations. The careful cutting and polishing of Fordite pieces reveal the beauty hidden within, making it a favourite among jewellery makers and collectors alike.


Despite being a man-made material, Fordite is surprisingly durable. The layers of paint, once hardened, provide a sturdy structure. When properly cut and polished, Fordite can be used in various forms of jewellery, including earrings, pendants, and rings.

Environmental Sustainability:

One of the unique aspects of Fordite is its connection to recycling. The material is essentially a recycled by-product of automotive manufacturing, turning something that would have been discarded into a valuable and aesthetically pleasing gemstone. This aspect adds an element of environmental consciousness to the appeal of Fordite.

Modern Applications:

Today, Fordite has found its way into the world of jewellery and art. Artisans and jewellery designers use Fordite to create one-of-a-kind pieces that celebrate both the history of automotive manufacturing and the beauty of repurposed materials. From statement necklaces to elegant earrings, Fordite jewellery is highly prized for its uniqueness and historical significance.

In conclusion, Fordite stands as a testament to the creativity that can emerge from unexpected places. What started as a by-product of the automotive industry has transformed into a sought-after gemstone, capturing the imagination of collectors and artists alike. Fordite's vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and connection to automotive history make it a truly fascinating and unique gemstone with a story unlike any other.

Fordite launches on JM on Tueday 6th February at 10am.

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Until next time jewellery makers!


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