The Van Cleef & Arpels brooch, presented to Eva Perón before 1949, depicts the Argentinean flag with its horizontal tricolor; two blue bands flanking a white center, superimposed with a golden sunburst. The blue and white emblem, known as the "Sun of May," symbolizes the end of Spanish rule when, on May 25, 1810 the national parliament elected Argentina's first provisional governing junta.
The colors of blue, gold and white on the flag lend themselves naturally to the use of precious gemstones with sapphires forming the blue bands and diamonds, the white band and yellow sunburst. The sapphires are set in the serti invisible or invisible setting technique, developed by Alfred Van Cleef & Julien Arpels in 1935. In this technique, matched gemstones (usually sapphires or rubies; rarely emeralds because of their fragility) are precisely cut into special shapes with four additional facets to provide a contrast of light and shade while reflecting light in a manner similar to a mirror. These stones are slid into grooves in a special mounting wherein they fit snugly next to one another with no visible metal showing. In serti invisible designs, stones can be cut into a variety of shapes that, when slotted in the mounting, can create very elegant sculptural works of art with flexible, planar or three-dimensional surfaces. On this brooch, they are arranged in an undulating, cloth-like pattern to simulate a flag billowing in the wind. Smooth to the touch with no sharp edges on either gemstone or mounting, this brooch invites tactile as well as visual enjoyment.
During the 1940s, figural jewelry became popular as a reaction to the rectilinear styles prevalent in the 1920s and 30s. Static geometry gave way to jewelry with movement within the design as typified by this brooch. After the war, Van Cleef & Arpels designed many brooches in the guise of flags. The Argentinean flag brooch was part of that series, most likely, special-ordered as a gift for Eva Perón. It symbolized Argentina's First Lady's love for her country, especially for her dear descamisados, literally the vast masses of "shirtless" ones. It is one of many pieces that this prestigious firm made during that time period for important personages. Included among this illustrious list were Prince Rainer and Princess Grace of Monaco.
As a memento of a bygone glamorous era, the Argentinean flag brooch symbolizes both the woman for whom it was designed and the spirit of her country. Eva Perón was a patriot and this brooch would have been one of her favorites, one that she wore on numerous public and social engagements.