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Now that George Clooney has heralded one of the signs of the apocalypse by getting engaged to a woman of substance, the media rollout has begun in earnest. This week's People magazine has exclusive photos and details of the diamond ring the Oscar winner slipped on the well-educated finger of London attorney Amal Alamuddin. Not surprisingly, it's both huge and politically correct.

The pics were taken on April 27, five days after George popped the question by getting down one knee. Clooney, 52, and Alamuddin, 36, showed off the sparkler during a private dinner in Santa Barbara with his close pals Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford (and a photographer). Take it away, People …

"Alamuddin has her hand resting lovingly on the back of her fiancé's neck -- providing a close-up look at her ring, which Clooney helped design. It features an ethically mined emerald-cut diamond estimated at 7-plus carats and two tapered baguettes set in platinum." See a close-up of it here.

It's interesting to note that Getty, which is not a paparazzi agency, shot the images, so this was likely a prearranged photo-op (Getty also snapped Clooney and Alamuddin on a recent safari to Tanzania, which isn't typically known as a shutterbug hangout).

No word on when the nuptials will take place, although a Clooney source tells the mag that there's "no rush."

The A-lister first stepped out with the Oxford-educated human rights lawyer in October, although his mom, Nina, said this week that she actually met Alamuddin about a year ago.

Clooney has also met her family, with the couple winging to Dubai in March to visit them. The trip included a two-day yacht trip with her siblings.

"They found George very easy to get along with, cool," a family member shares with People. "They felt at ease with him immediately."

So, why Amal and why now?

"He respects that she is not remotely involved in his world," says a pal.

Adds another, "He has found someone who is as smart as he is and who is her own independent woman. Amal seems to be the best fit for him he's ever had [in a partner]."

The topic of intellectual compatibility has been mentioned repeatedly in recent days, with the exceedingly accomplished Alamuddin landing head and shoulders above the star's previous arm candy of actresses, former wrestlers, Italian models and TV hosts. Then again, those are the women Clooney chose to spend time with, so it's really not a fair comparison.

Either way, like famed bachelor Warren Beatty before him, "He waited until he was in the right space to meet the right woman," a friend explains to the mag. "He has matured and evolved, and he has found someone who can keep up with him."

Concludes a confidant, "She is not going to change, or give up being a human rights lawyer, because she is with George Clooney."


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