A Wedding Ring with a Dirty Little Secret

October 01 2018

Chloe Stein, an executive chef and caterer, remembers fondly her fairytale engagement in early September 2016.

She and her then-boyfriend, Deepak Panjwani, a data analyst at Bloomberg, were on vacation in Sweden. They took a day trip to Drottningholm Palace, the private residence of the Swedish royal family, and toured the vast 16th-century gardens.

Mr Panjwani then surprised Ms Stein by proposing. But instead of presenting a traditional diamond ring, he held out a “smog free ring,” a piece of designer jewellery that has come to symbolize the fight against urban pollution.

The ring is made of hundreds of thousands of gallons of pollution sucked from the air and compressed into a tiny box and covered by a shiny, protective case. (It’s essentially a black mass inside a clear cube.) The particles in the ring are considered so dangerous that if breathed in, they can shorten an adult’s life expectancy by six to eight years, according to the ring’s designer and creator, Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist and technologist.

Some might question the romantic appeal of a smog-free ring, but Ms Stein, 27, a staunch environmentalist, remains delighted. “The normal paradigm is for you to start your marriage by buying something that causes harm to the environment and the people who are working to get out the diamond,” she said. “By not buying into the system, we started our marriage not only with a clean slate but an environmentally positive state.”

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