Here’s a tricky true/false question for you: Truly fashionable women wear gemstones made of car paint.

True. The “gemstone” even has a name: Fordite. As in Ford Motor Company.

Throughout most of U.S. auto history, finished cars were painted in designated places in the factory. The over spray from the paint collected on the floor. As the layers of dried paint thickened, weight and pressure fused the paint into rock-like hardness. When the paint became too thick, auto workers needed to remove the paint by cutting it into slabs.

Legend claims an autoworker noticed the colorful beauty of the swirled and layered paint, brought a hunk home and fashioned it into jewelry for his daughter. Other workers followed suit.

I never learned how the paint “gems” received the name “Fordite,” but would like to attribute the name to the auto workers’ daughters. In my mind, it goes something like this:

A woman wearing fur and dripping in diamonds stops the teenage daughter of an autoworker on the sidewalk. Pointing at the colorful pendant hanging from the girl’s neck, the woman asks the name of the gemstone. In typical teenage fashion, the girl sees an opportunity to mess with an adult.

Striking a Hollywood pose, the girl says, “It’s called Fordite. Very rare, you know.”

If you know the real story behind the name, please don’t tell me unless it tops the one I just made up.

Of course, not all Fordite came from a Ford Motor Plant. Some of the priciest Fordite was collected in Corvette shops. Yeah, I said priciest. Online folks selling this specialized “gem” charge a premium.

New auto painting techniques now prevent the buildup of paint on factory floors. There will be no new Fordite.

Which means our fictional teenager was absolutely correct: Fordite has become as rare as the Edsel.

 

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