The Most Expensive Dye in the World

Art Pinto 01-14-2012

Ever wonder what the most expensive dye in the world is?

I spend quite a bit of my time doing research, and reading on anything and everything related to Decorative Concrete. A few weeks ago, I met with someone to discuss an upcoming project we have, along the conversation he mentioned a dye that is used in lenses and fishing lines that costs about $ 17.00 per gram, yes, PER GRAM! That comes to a hefty $ 7.718.00 per lb.

I said to him, well, I guess we will not be using that on floors, and that was the end of that. But, being that I am curious by nature, I embarked on a little more research into dyes, what they really are, where they originated and which was really the most expensive dye in the world.

During this research I learned that forms of dye have been made since the early days, usually at a great cost because most came either from very expensive raw materials, or had to go through a very long and elaborate manufacturing process.


My investigation led me to a seashell byproduct called Royal Tyrian Dye, made from the Murex Trunculus Shell (try to say that fast ten times!), this dye is still made today following the same manufacturing process used by the Phoenicians thousands of years ago. The end result is a powerful dye in shades of blue, red and purple that due to its extreme cost was only used by royalty, the very rich, religious leaders and only for the finest of garments. According to the description of the process, it takes about 10,000 to 12,000 shells to produce a single gram of dye! I mean, let’s talk about labor intensive here.



I continued digging and finally found a company in Croatia that (according to them) makes this dye the same way it was made thousands of years ago by their early ancestors. I could not resist temptation of course, so I contacted them and asked them about the dye, what is it is used for nowadays and what is the price at present time.

They were very gracious with their answer and they told me dye comes in shades of blue and red, it is mostly used for religious garments coloring, and the bulk of it goes to Israel and other Middle East countries.

Then we came to the cost, they quoted me a bargain price of EU 2500.00 per gram, which is the equivalent to $ 4,000.00 per gram, yes, PER GRAM! (Didn’t I said that already?), anyway, that comes to the incredible sum of $ 1,816,000.00 x lb. (one million eighth hundred and sixteen thousand buckaroos per pound).

So there you go guys, if Bill Gates or any other gazillionare wants a million dollar floor, countertop, patio, etc. You can now offer it to them. Let’s say you’d need 5 lbs to do the job, it will cost $ 9,080,000.00 in dye alone, and will require roughly 27 million Murex Trunculus Shells.

To put this in perspective, here are some other expensive products by the gram:

  • Platinum: $ 68.00 x gram
  • Gold: $ 70.00 x gram
  • Diamonds: $ 50,000 - $ 84,000 x gram

Now, if you thought that was expensive, the next item will explain the state of the economy, the world wide crisis, why there is still world hunger today, and why we have not found a cure for cancer yet.


If you were thinking about Antimatter, you are correct!


Cost of Positron Antimatter: 25,000,000,000.00 (25 Billion x gram, a bargain compared to the next)


Cost of AntiHydrogen Antimatter: 62,500,000,000,000.00 (62.5 Trillion x gram), the cost of just one ounce will pay off every country’s national debt, would fund thousands of trips to the moon, pay social security benefits for over a thousand years and would buy every forum user a brand new Mercedes Benz.



I won't be buying Royal Tyrian Dye anytime soon, unless of course Mr. Gates comes knocking at my door, but I do wonder how these dyes would work on concrete, could they be polished? Anyway, I am going to send an email to the Croatians and request a few samples, run a few tests and see how they work, just need a couple of ounces. I will keep you posted on the tests results as soon as I receive the free samples.


Art Pinto

Decorative Concrete Forum Contributor Writer