Funky jewels created from Dagenham Ford factory’s waste

Fordite jewellery by Ian Barrett

Fordite jewellery by Ian Barrett - Credit: Archant

In the former Ford stamping plant, it was thrown away as rubbish. But in a jeweller’s workshop in Manchester, it becomes treasure.

Raw Fordite from Susan Kershaw

Raw Fordite from Susan Kershaw - Credit: Archant

The strange substance you can see set in silver in these pictures comes from the car plant in Beam Park – and is formed from layers of paint built up on the bottom of the bays where cars were sprayed.

It’s called Fordite and its potential was spotted by jeweller Ian Barrett who turns it into cufflinks, earrings and pendants.

“As soon as I saw it I thought ‘what an amazing material’,” he recalled. “When people see it, I always have to explain what it is to them, because they think it’s a stone or crystal.”

Ian’s pieces take up to a week to complete and sell for about £100.

Ian Barrett working with Fordite

Ian Barrett working with Fordite - Credit: Archant

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Sadly, changes in manufacturing mean the material is becoming rarer, and Ian has nearly exhausted his supply of genuine Dagenham Fordite, which he used to get from a factory employee who has since died.

Now, most of it comes from “Motor City” Detroit.

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“You can tell if the Fordite is English or American because the US cars are much brighter colours, whereas the English stuff is classic colours – mostly blue, red and white,” Ian explained.

“I have had customers who have worked at the Dagenham factory or owned a Ford car and spotted their paint colour in the jewellery.”

Fordite cufflinks by Ian Barrett

Fordite cufflinks by Ian Barrett - Credit: Archant

Ian’s website, Jurassic Jewellery, is so-called because he also uses dinosaur bones in his work and he sees the increasingly rare Fordite as “the fossil of the future.”

It’s definitely a little piece of Dagenham history.

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