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Fordite: A Motor City gemstone

Rock hounds flock to the shores of Lake Superior in search of agates, the colorful layered gemstones treasured by lapidaries and lovers of semiprecious stones. Those agates were formed with layers of different minerals eons ago when water vapor, carbon dioxide, and silica became trapped in iron-rich lava flows. Lapidaries today also work with another form of “agate,” one that's decades rather than eons old, created just a few hundred miles south of "the big lake they call gitche gumee," in the words of Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Some call this variegated stone "motor agate," industrial agate, or Detroit agate, but its more popular name is fordite. Unlike real agate, it was created in car factories, not volcanoes.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com: 

https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/fordite-a-motor-city-gemstone/

Replies (8)

Replies (8)

Worked in the paint department of at the Corvette Assembly. It would build up on the frames that we painted the cars on. It may not be the same type of paint but the effect is the same just in the Corvette colors. 

Passenger

As both a car nut and a jewelry maker, I found this article to most welcome. Since Fordite has become very scarce and the prices reach almost astronomical figures, an "imitation" material has appeared.  For what its worth, from Gemology:

  • Rainbow calsilica, also called calsilica stone and false fordite, is a man made material.
  • They originate as a by-product from tile companies in Mexico.
  • It is a polymer and a paraffin-like substance. 
  • Rainbow calsilica forms when the mixture trickles into a drainage pond where it hardened over time.
Passenger

Beautiful stuff. I will say we were doing this 35 years ago. I work for one of the 'Big 3' paint suppliers to the OEMs. We used to make belt buckles and such from the layered paints. But we never thought about making money from it!

Passenger

I have some Boattite. Same thing but in gelcoat. 

Passenger

Reminds me of the old adage...  "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

Well done!

Pit Crew

This stuff is so cool! My wife showed it to me a few years ago on Belle Isle, but I didn't realize that it came from the OEMs. Great article!

Pit Crew

Awesome, never heard of it. Some of those pieces are gorgeous!

Detailer

In the late 50's early 60's my mom took me to her old friends house in Milford Mi. . He had big chunks - a lot of it - scraped off the paint racks -  all polished up setting on shelves .  It was beautiful ! Do you think he gave me one little piece ? NOPE !

Passenger