In Path of Exile, skill gems act as a crucial part of how your character plays and feels. These can determine your playstyle vastly and provide many powerful abilities for your character. In this guide, we will explore how skill gems work and explain how to use them.
Gems must be equipped into equipment sockets to work. These sockets can have different colors corresponding with the respected color of the gems based on the required base attribute.
Firstly, there are two main types of skill gems:
-Active skill gems, providing active skills for your character corresponding to the three main attributes.
-Support gems, which work a bit differently. They augment active skill gems in some way, and for this to work, they not only have to be socketed into the right colored socket but also the socket needs to be linked to the other gem slot that you wish to support. Also, you cannot stack multiple copies of a single support gem onto an active gem. In this case, only the higher-level support gem will take effect.
So how do you get these gems? You can acquire them as quest rewards, you can buy them from vendors, get them as drops from monsters or chests, and from vendor recipes.
Additionally, gems level up while you play. Socketed gems gain 10% of the experience your character earns, calculated before any level penalties.
After a gems XP bar gets filled, you can click on it to level it up. As gems level up, their abilities get better, also their requirements and their mana cost raise. If a gem gains enough experience to level up, but the exile currently does not meet the requirements, the level-up icon will be greyed out, and the gem cannot be further leveled until the requirements are met.
Most gems have a level cap of 20, but there are some ways to increase their level beyond that. Such as the Paragon's - +1 to socketed gems prefix, corruptions, or certain unique items like the Frostferno. Some support gems can augment gem levels as well. This way you can raise your gems' level quite a lot.
A Gemcutter's prism can be used to upgrade a gem's quality, which you can buy in our shop. Adding quality to a gem will provide an additional effect to the skill. The exact modifications quality gives to the gem are displayed in the detailed view.
The effect of quality will scale with the base quality's effect, but only whole numbers will be granted. for example, 3% quality on a gem with 0.5% effect will only grant 1% effect and not 1.5% effect. Effects that have some degree of fractions naturally are rounded to their natural bases. In the case of seconds, it will be rounded to milliseconds.
Similar to most items, gems can also be corrupted using Vaal orbs. Corruption can possibly raise a gems quality and its level cap above the 20 as well. It may also convert a gem into its Vaal skill equivalent if there is one.
It is also worth to mention some special kinds of gems, one being awakened gems. Simply put, these gems are the overpowered versions of regular support gems. They can only be leveled up to +5, but even on level 1, they are more powerful than the basic version of the given gem at level 20. Since they are this powerful they are dropped by late-game bosses like Sirius, Al-Hezmin, Veritania, Drox and Baran.
Lastly, there are also alternate quality gems. These are, as the name implies, gems with alternative qualities from normal ones. There are three different types of alternate qualities, which means there are several hundreds of variations. It has to be noted, that these gems can only be acquired from heist, so keep that in mind.
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