To the untrained eye, the semi-precious stone pictured above looks like agate. Called Fordite, Detroit or Motor Agate, this enamel material isn’t a semi-precious stone and it doesn’t come from the ground.
Fordite is a by-product of paint build-up from hand spray-painting at automotive plants. The website Fordite.com explains that the build-up would occur over years. As workers sprayed body panels and sent them into ovens to cure the paint, the run-off on the tracks conveying panels for spraying would also bake. Repeated build-up and baking of the enamel paint hardened the material, making it strong enough to cut and polish.
The founder of Fordite.com, Cindy Dempsey, was given pieces of the enamel material by a family friend when she was young. She fell in love with its uniqueness.
“I had developed a love and fascination for mineralogy and had begun really learning more about the subject while I was in school. The thought that these beautiful chunks of ‘paintrock’ came from an auto factory, and not from the earth, opened a whole new line of thought for me and my art. These chunks didn’t look like much, but when you cut through them, they sure looked organic, with those familiar stripes and concentric rings, just like real agate.”
Cindy, along with many other crafters, now makes jewellery using Fordite.
Image credit: worldofminerals.blogfa.com