What Highly Sought After Material Used In Jewelry Making Is Only Found In Detroit?
Rarity and uniqueness go a long way in giving jewelry its allure; if you’re looking for something quite unique, look no further than the Motor City. Lately, there’s been a trend in jewelry making that relies on a peculiar and rather rare substance found in Detroit, MI: Fordite.
Fordite, named such in a nod to the Ford Motor Company and its founder Henry Ford, is a very colorful material that’s highly reminiscent of agate, but entirely man made and a really cool relic of the height of Detroit’s automotive age. For most of the 20th century, cars were painted via spray mechanism then rolled on a track into an oven where the paint would be baked on like an enamel. The paint from the spray process and drips would accumulate on the skids inside the oven: shift-by-shift, layer-by-layer. Eventually this excess paint would accumulate hundreds of layers and begin to impede the workers. They’d descend on the oven with chisels and pry bars and crack off the swirly agate-like accumulation by the pounds.
While most of the paint buildup was disposed of like regular factory waste, some workers would take hunks home and, later on in the 1970s when word had spread about how cool the stuff was, people would show up at the factory asking to take a bit home. Because most of it was just trashed and because modern electrostatic-paint processes don’t create the same type of colorful waste product, Fordite is particularly rare.
Artists snatch the stuff up where they can and turn it into unique and colorful jewelry; pendants, rings, and cufflinks created with Fordite easily fetch hundreds of dollars and offer a rather interesting conversation piece with a bit of history woven right in.