Fordite Jewellery incorporating Whitby Jet.

What is Fordite?

Fordite is the name given to the material derived from the layers of paint which accumulated during the processes of spraying cars.


Historically the material from the Ford factories of Detroit was cut, but this material is scarce nowadays and other sources are used. The material is also termed ‘motor agate’ due to the similarity in texture to agate when polished. Each piece is totally unique. Please contact us if you’d like a specific shape or design and we will try our best.

How is Fordite made?.

Unlike modern automotive production lines, which use electrostatic processes to apply paint to the car bodies, the old factories had spray painting bays. Here the paint would be applied by using spray guns, resulting in overspray and wastage which built up on the tracks and skids that the car bodies were transported along on These were baked repeatedly over the years as they passed through the ovens in order for the painted cars to cure, resulting in the layers of wasted paint becoming hardened over time. Some deeper layers of paint are said to have been baked 100 times! During plant maintenance any of the material that had built up to such a point that it had become obstructive would be removed.

The story of Fordite

The story then tells of some creative workers, drawn to the interestingly random and colourful nature of the material, realising its potential as an up-cycled craft material.As the material itself is reasonably easy to cut, shape and polish the first results, we can imagine, must have been incredibly rewarding. Random layers of multicoloured paint, some occasionally  with a metallic lustre creating a totally unique effect.  

Lapidaries gradually picked up the bug for cutting this strange, man made, almost accidental, beautiful material and Fordite can now even be found on sale at the worlds largest annual gem ,rock, and jewellery show in Tucson Arizona. Sitting alongside the rows of Diamonds, Sapphires , Rubies and all the other natural treasures on sale. Its, here where the adventurous lapidary, with an eye for something different can search out an appealing piece and turn it into a bespoke piece of Fordite jewellery. 

  As the processes that created the Fordite are no longer in use we only have a finite amount available to use before it runs out, along with your chance to own what has to be described as a unique piece of American and automobile history.  

 Types of Fordite. It is generally accepted that a piece of Fordite can fall intobe one of 4 distinctive types.

Type 1 .   Separated Colours, Bands of coloured paint separated by regular bands of grey primer paint.

Type 2 . Colour on Colour. Created from small special colour production runs and small part spraying. Can contain metallic, opaque and special edition colours.

Type 3. Colour on Colour. Layers of coloured, opaque and metallic paint with drips and or stripe effect.  Can show  swirls patterns or lace effect and occasionally have channelling in the surface.

 Type 4    Colour on Colour. Evident colour bleeds between layers of both opaque and metallic paints. Can exhibit pitting as a result of air bubbles being formed during production.

Whichever type of Fordite is used, we hope you will find the end results attractive. Each of our pieces of Fordite jewellery is truly unique with the Fordite itself looking even more dramatic still when set against the beautiful deep black lustre of the Whitby jet.

We started working Fordite around 10  years ago. As we specialise in Whitby jet, the blackest of black materials, it introduced a whole new array of collars into our designs and the results have been both pleasing and popular.

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