Established in 1985, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) has invested over $161 million in support of its programmes, primarily through grants awarded to nearly 1,800 research teams. Under the patronage of Elizabeth Taylor, amfAR is the nation's leading non-profit organization dedicated to the support of HIV/AIDS research. amfAR's mission is "to prevent HIV infection and the disease and death associated with it and to protect the human rights of all the people threatened by the epidemic of HIV/AIDS". Its Basic Research program seeks the knowledge to understand HIV so that strategies can be devised to control and prevent the infection. Currently, amfAR is funding research projects in HIV vaccine development and immune reconstitution.
In 1990, Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, a non-profit organization of artists and art professionals based in New York City, developed the idea of the red ribbon as a symbol of hope for all those afflicted with the illness. Red was chosen because it is the colour of passion as well as compassion. The red ribbon became an internationally recognized symbol for AIDS awareness on June 2, 1991, when Jeremy Irons, co-host of the 45th Tony Awards ceremony, wore one on his lapel.
Initially designed as a grosgrain ribbon looped to form an inverted V and secured with a pin, it soon incorporated more refined materials, such as enamel or pavé crystals. The brooch offered here is composed of fine rubies, invisibly-set so there is no mounting apparent, with a diamond appearing to secure the crossing. This unique interpretation of a universal symbol raises it to a new level of luxury.