Fordite, also known as Detroit agate, is a beautiful stone and a wonderful relic of urban history. The extraordinary gem looks very much like a natural agate, rippling with layers upon layers of the most vibrant colours there are. The stones were produced by car painting techniques that are no longer practiced – layered spray-painting by hand in automobile factories.
This practice produced layers of enamel paint slag on the tracks and skids on which the painted cars and parts stood. As the painted cars were baked numerous times to dry and harden the paint, the overspray below them would also be baked repeatedly before eventually being removed. Keen-eyed workers who recognized the aesthetic value of the dried paint stones collected and saved them until now, when this car painting practice no longer exists. Their history makes them almost as valuable as real gems.
Now that the car painting process is automated, materials like Fordite might never be produced again. The limited supplies of Detroit agate are now used to create eye-catching pieces of jewellery, swirling with psychedelic patterns and inspiring nostalgia for bygone days.