Accidental Jewelry

Have you ever heard of fordite, or as it’s more commonly known, motor agate? I hadn’t until I stumbled upon an artist who’s dedicated to celebrating this “accidental,” man-made material.

fordite earrings via

Back in the day when cars were hand-painted on assembly lines, the tracks and skids that held them became thick with layers and layers of paint. These layers were sent into the ovens to cure along with the cars over and over again, essentially becoming baked enamel, and eventually had to be removed so as not to hamper production. Some creative soul realized the potential of these beautiful layers as a salvage opportunity—the painted layers could easily be cut and polished into a myriad of faux rocks. Rock hounds soon began offering their services to factories to remove these colorful nuggets.

fordite necklace via

Fordite is the brainchild of designer and artist Cindy Dempsey (who says she was inspired by the pet-rock phenomenon of the 1970s) and a family friend who worked at one of the factories and brought pieces home to her. She fell in love with the colorful bits and began using them in place of gemstones in her jewelry designs. Her website offers a historical perspective of motor agate, classification types, a cabochon gallery, and a humorous 12-step program called Fordite Addicts Anonymous, where users can determine whether they are experiencing any of the seven signs of fordite addiction. Cindy went on to form Urban Relic Design, a group of artists dedicated to making unique jewelry with this fantastic by-product.

fordite ring via

You can visit their shop or head over to for a link to all things fordite. Now, pieces of fordite really are collectors’ items because they no longer exist; the automotive industry has moved to mechanized painting, which leaves little to no overspray on the assembly line.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Fascinating! I never knew about this and have seen jewelry like what is shown here but had no idea of how it came into being. It is quite beautiful with each piece being unique. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cindi says:

    That is fascinating!! So many years since the first vehicle rolled off the assembly line and the automobile industry still continues to blaze new trails!

  3. Karlyne says:

    How fun!

  4. Bren D says:

    Simply amazing!! To repurpose, to manipulate waste into something beautiful is simply amazing!! It’s a win win. No waste for the landfill. Beautiful and unique jewelry made due to one person with a vision. How beautiful!! 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this article. I totally enjoyed it.

  5. Mary Jo says:


  6. Christy Craver says:

    That’s amazing.

  7. Kathy Dickson says:

    Beautiful! I am amazed at Cindy Dempsey’s ability to “see” creative jewelry from such unusual “stones!” The human imagination…something to behold!

  8. Toni H says:

    Never heard of it, but it’s stunning!

  9. Amanda Travis says:

    I love the idea of taking a “waste” product and making something beautiful out of it. Not only does it keep this product out of the land fill, but it adds beauty to the lives of those who own pieces of these. Really neat!!!

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