Garnets are a semi-precious stone that is the birthstone for the month of January. It is normally seen as a dark red color, but it also comes in a wide variety of colors. The garnet can include shades of yellow, orange, brown, green, violet, and pink. Sometimes you can even find colors that are very nearly black and even black stones. Choosing one from a jewelry store isn't always easy, but there are some tips that can make a huge difference.

Choose Your Store Carefully.
While Walmart is going to have cheaper jewelry then many jewelers, you are paying for the quality of the piece. They will have less expensive stones, as well as cuts and settings that are distributed all over the world. If you want something that is special then you want to find a good jeweler. While it may seem easy and worth it to get something inexpensive, a good garnet is worth the money that you pay for it.

Loose or Set.
Often times if you want to get the best piece at the best price it is a good idea to look at your stones in the loose format. These will be cut and you will be able to hold them, examine them closely, and choose the stone for you. Then you will also be able to choose a setting to have the stone put into. If you are seeking out the help of a very good and experienced jeweler then you can also have a say about the setting and he or she may create something completely unique just for you.

The first thing you want to look at is color. Whether you choose a stone that is red, yellow, orange, brown, green, violet, pink, or black is all about personal preference. However, you will want to carefully evaluate the stone's color and make sure that it is even with a single color across the entire thing. You will also want the color to be vivid, beautiful, and bright. Dull stones aren't near as appealing.

Next you will want to look into the depths of the stone. You don't want to see any inclusions, spots, discolorations, spots, or cloudy areas. You want a clear stone! The clearer the better. Obvious flaws are something that you should try to avoid. The stone should appear to be clear with depth, much like looking through a colored glass.

The next thing to consider is the cut of the stone. Garnets come in a huge variety of cuts and shapes including fancy ones such as the heart. The shape of the piece is going to depend on your personal tastes and the size of the stone. However, you will want to move the stone about and view it from all angles. You should look to see that the facets of the stone are smooth and that the light reflects off of all the sides providing a bright and beautiful piece. The facets should come together in a manner that looks well put together and not sloppy. Look at the piece really close! While others won't be checking it out as close as you will be, it is a good idea to get a great look and know that the cut is a good cut.

Carat is going to refer to the size of the stone. Garnets come in a huge variety of sizes from very small all the way up to 10 carat pieces. While the larger the stone the more it will cost, the size you choose is going to have a lot to do with your own personal tastes and the type and size of the piece you wish to have it set in.

You will want to talk to the jeweler about each stone. Ask what type of treatments, if any, the stone has gone through. Many garnets go through treatments that can include irradiation (removal of impurities), heat treatment (for stability and color enhancement), dying (for color enhancement), and coating (used to enhance depth and shine of a gemstone). While these treatments are often used to make a gemstone more beautiful and in many cases don't effect the price any it is still a good idea to find out about your stone so you know exactly what you are getting.

Talk It Over.
While not all jewelers will be friendly about talking about the piece with you, many will. Some are proud of their work, others buy the stones pre-cut and have nothing to worry about. Feel free to ask questions and their opinion about each of the stones you look at. This will give you a lot more information about the stones and help you make an informed decision.

Cost is going to be completely up to you. While the perfection of a stone and its size are going to make huge differences in the cost, you will want to evaluate your budget. Let the jeweler know from the very beginning what your cost range is. That way you can look at the stones that will fall into your price range. Remember that when you set a price range you need to include the cost of the setting as well. It may be easy to find a stone that fits in your price range, but you still have to pay to have it set, have the setting made, and to pay for the materials the setting is made of!

It is best to evaluate all the stones within your price range. This way you can narrow it down to the best ones or the ones you like best. You can then discuss the setting you wish to have the stone put into so that your stone will not only be the one you like best, but also the one that works best with your setting. You can look at several jewelry store's collection of garnets before making your decision. You can even take the time to talk to several jewelers or to bring a friend with you for other opinions. While this isn't a life changing decision it is a good idea to be completely in love with the piece since it will cost you a fair amount of money.

The process of choosing a garnet for your next piece of fine jewelry can be a lot of fun. For getting the best for your money you will want to treat it with all seriousness. Buying garnets may not seem as important as buying diamonds, but the decision can be just as important and the process very similar. Get something you love, not just something you like.