You won't find Fordite digging through your backyard. It's also called Detroit Shale, but it's not a mineral or a gemstone. It's actually dozens of layers of baked paint culled from auto factories and polished into everything from pebbles to earrings. It could be the most Jalopnik jewelry in existence, if there is such a thing.
Fordite began life in old factories where automakers spray-painted cars by hand. Overspray accumulated on the tracks and skids where vehicles were painted, and over the course of dozens – sometimes hundreds – of coats, the paint would build up. These layers would wind up in the paint-curing ovens where it would harden under the heat.
Over time, the built-up would have to be removed from the tracks, and a few enterprising factory workers chunked off the stuff and pocketed it.
Fifty years later, there's a finite amount of Fordite on the planet, and since no one hand-paints cars at scale, it's also expensive, with even small rings going for $200.
Check out the photos and it's like a topographical journey through the history of car colors. You can see the grey primer coat, followed by countless colors that defined the 60s and 70s. And there's some geography in there, too. Ohio Fordite primarily comes from factories that painted commercial vehicles, so you'll find more earth tones, while Detroit Fordite is chockfull of yellows, oranges, reds, and blues used on consumer vehicles. You can even find some bass boat glitter coats.