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Ethical Style: Angelina Jolie's Engagement Ring and the State of the Ethical Diamond Angelina Jolie's Engagement Ring and Ethical Diamond Sourcing

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can afford to buy the most ethical diamond ring on the market. The knockoff version isn't so innocent.


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have built an image as Hollywood’s most conscientious power couple—adopters of orphans, rebuilders of New Orleans, ambassadors to the U.N. So when the domestic partners announced their long-awaited engagement this month, I was a little surprised to learn that Pitt had gifted Jolie a new diamond ring. I assumed that a couple of their humanitarian pedigree would go for something a little less ethically ambiguous.

Pitt and Jolie can afford to buy the most conflict-free diamond ring on the market. Pitt is estimated to have spent a year—and $250,000—finalizing the design with jeweler-to-the-stars Robert Procop, who had previously partnered with Jolie herself to market charitable jewels to help fund a school in Afghanistan. But the origins of even the world's most closely watched diamond is not crystal clear.

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Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Evil

Many chocolates, diamonds, and flowers are made under unethical practices. Here's a guide to choosing wisely.


Speaking cynically, Valentine's Day is a holiday that encourages compulsory, conspicuous consumption in the name of love. Speaking practically, even the holiday's haters are likely to show affection with a floral arrangement or tennis bracelet at some point down the line. Unfortunately, many of Valentine's Day's standard romantic gifts are produced under unethical practices. (Might we suggest a simple handmade valentine?) If you're wedded to the holiday's traditional offerings, here's a guide to choosing wisely:

FLOWERS. Last year, we discussed the violent labor practices that make your romantic flower arrangement from major markets like Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. Flower farm workers around the world have reported sexual harassment, physical assault, rock-bottom wages, and dangerous working conditions while picking the roses in your Valentine's Day bouquet. Luckily, select florists do offer fair trade-certified flowers: Try One World Flowers or Inbloom Group. And recently, growing attention to these unethical working conditions has encouraged major flower companies to stock more ethically-sourced offerings, as well. 1-800-Flowers' "Planet Friendly Smile Collection" claims to offer flowers from "domestic and international flower farms that follow socially and environmentally responsible practices," while FTD's "Go Green Living" features fair trade-certified, "eco-friendly" bouquets. But the bulk of their business still relies on questionably-sourced flowers.

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Diamonds 101

If you're planning on popping the question this year, you're probably in the market for some jewelry. And we realize you might be too busy...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psMUVOSAIw4If you're planning on popping the question this year, you're probably in the market for some jewelry. And we realize you might be too busy crafting the perfect proposal to research the pedigree of your engagement ring. That's why we do the legwork for you in our latest video Transparency.

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