Tyrian Purple is actually a cousin of indigo dye. Indigo is well-known and remains the most produced dye worldwide. Historically, indigo was farmed from the indigofera genus of plants, but now tonnes of it are produced synthetically each year.
Tyrian purple is indigo with two bromine atoms attached at the 6–positions (6,6’–dibromoindigo). Fatefully, a chemist trying to brominate indigo dye directly in the lab would succeed at adding bromine at the 4, 5 and 7 positions, but not the 6 position.
There are several synthetic preparations of Tyrian Purple, which is something I have been researching for a few upcoming publications (stay tuned!). However, despite my own efforts, the synthesis of Tyrian Purple is time consuming, a little expensive and not as industrially viable as the modern synthetic purples. Alas, I won’t be following in Sir William Henry Perkin’s footsteps, and this beautiful dye seems destined to remain in the history books.
For the time being at least.