PoE Gem Quality Explained – Everything You Need to Know

Updated for 3.11. Path of Exile: Harvest

Path of Exile is an incredibly deep game with many mechanics and aspects to learn, which can be really intimidating and frustrating to beginners. One such aspect is PoE gem quality. So this post will try to help you with the gem quality mechanics, where they fit in your gameplay, and how they affect your build roadmap.

What is gem quality?

Gem quality is the percentage on a skill gem, which adds a new line of stats to a skill gem or boosts an existing stat. The stat itself can range from being incredibly powerful to downright terrible.

Split Arrow Gem Path of ExileSplit Arrow Gem with Quality Path of Exile

Should you care about gem quality?

Yes, but it depends on the gem AND your build. For example, all aura gems get increased range per 1% of quality. But unless you’re playing a support character, the increased range on aura gems is completely useless. Or if you get quality on a skill such as Blood Rage, it’s 0.25% attack speed per 1% of quality. This means a level 20, 0% quality Blood Rage (15% increased attack speed)  is equal in strength to a level 10, 20% quality Blood Rage (also 15% IAS).

Blood Rage Gem Path of ExileBlood Rage Gem with Quality Path of Exile

How does gem quality affect your damage?

Gem quality gives supplementary stat increases that are additive with other stats. It doesn’t multiply the base damage or effect of a skill in any way. Some skills get quality of life improvements from quality. Such as increased Area of Effect on Tectonic Slam. Or a pure damage steroid. For example, increased attack speed on Reave.

What’s more important – gem quality or level?

Levels on a gem are way more important than quality. Levels increase the base damage, damage effectiveness, and effect of any skill or support gem. This is especially the case for spell gems. But quality is still good because it gives us a way to slightly increase our character’s power on top of that.

What’s the highest gem quality you can get?

The maximum quality you can get on any normal gem is 20%. This increased to 23% on corrupted gems. And some gems with up to 30% quality exist on Standard League. The drop location for these is speculation since it might’ve been disabled already, but one of the guesses is Vorici in the Syndicate’s Transporation safehouse.

How to get gem quality?

Gems can drop with quality ranging from 5-20% (1-4% only happens from strongboxes with the quality mod).

You can use the currency item Gemcutter’s Prisms (GCP) to increase quality by 1% for each GCP you use.

Gemcutter's Prism Path of Exile

Or you can use the gem quality recipe. For that, you need to vendor a level 20 uncorrupted skill gem and 1 GCP. In return, you’ll get a corresponding level 1 gem with 20% quality. The vendor recipe doesn’t work for gems that can’t reach level 20. For example, Enlighten, Brand Recall, Blood and Sand, Awakened Gems, etc.

Gem Quality Vendor Recipe Result Path of Exile

How to get 23% quality on gems?

To increase your gem’s quality above 20 you need to corrupt your gem. It needs to have 20% quality beforehand, so when you corrupt it you’ll have a 16-20% chance to increase gem quality to 23% (from 20%). You can do this with a Vaal Orb. Or using a Lapidary Lens found in Temple of Atzoatl’s Doryani’s Institute, which is the level 3 version of the Gemcutter’s Workshop room.

Lapidary Lens PoE Temple of Atzoatl Lapidary Lens Usage PoE Temple of Atzoatl Temple of Atzoatl Doryani's Institute PoE

When should you use Gemcutter’s Prisms to get more gem quality?

You can use GCPs on gems whenever you want, but some factors determine if it’s worthwhile:

  • MOST IMPORTANT: does the gem quality do anything good for you? For example, do you really need extra range on your Hatred aura if you’re playing alone?
  • Gauge the cost before you do it: a GCP is usually worth 0.5-1 Chaos Orbs. So if you’re upgrading a gem from 0-20% quality, the incurred cost is 10-20 Chaos Orbs. And if you can get that 20% quality gem on poe.trade for less, then it’s better to just buy it there. But if you’re upgrading it from 16%, the cost is only 2-4 Chaos Orbs. In short, compare the costs.
  • If you’re pressed for time and have loads of GCPs to spare, use them to directly to increase a gem’s quality. For example, needing to use up a Lapidary Lens in Temple of Atzoatl.
  • If you’re playing in Solo Self-Found, it’s probably better to go for the gem quality vendor recipe since you can’t trade or get GCPs that easily.
  • If it’s an Awakened Gem, use GCPs ASAP. Most of the Awakened Gem quality bonuses are really powerful. And other than using GCPs directly Awakened Gems, there’s no feasible way to get quality on them. So just do it!

When should you use the gem quality recipe?

Flipping gems via the gem quality vendor recipe is a fun thing to do. And I also do this at the start of a league. So if you have time to level a gem, use the gem quality vendor recipe, and then level the gem again, go for it. But also consider several other factors:

  • MOST IMPORTANT: does the gem quality do anything good for you? For example, do you really need extra range on your Hatred aura if you’re playing alone?
  • Are you fine with the temporary loss of power? When your gems are level 1 again, you’ll be considerably weaker until you get back to high gem levels. And this is especially painful for spell gems since they scale the most from levels.

What does corrupting a gem do exactly?

When you corrupt most gems with a Vaal Orb, there can be 5 different outcomes. And 6 outcomes for gems that also have a Vaal version. For example Spark. Corrupting with the Lapidary Lens will always get you 2 out of the 5/6 outcomes.

The outcomes are:

  1. Nothing happens, but the gem gets a “corrupted” tag
  2. Gain 1 gem level
  3. Lose 1 gem level
  4. Gain up to 10% quality (caps at 23%)
  5. Lose up to 10% quality
  6. Turn the gem into a Vaal version. For example, Vaal Spark.

This means you only have 16-20% chance to get that sweet 23% quality.  But it’s easier for gems that have no vaal versions.

When should you corrupt gems for more quality?

Corrupting gems is essentially gambling. You can win AND lose. So do it if you’re feeling adventurous or if you want to min-max your character. But once you corrupt a gem, there’s no undoing it. From then on, you can’t change the gem other than leveling it.

So the things to consider are:

  • Is the extra 3% quality that great for the gem?
  • How much would losing quality affect you?
  • Does the skill have a Vaal version to bring your chances down? (no support gems have Vaal versions)

A thing to note is that if you just need the 23% quality, you can also corrupt a level 1 gem with 20% quality. If it gets to 23%, then great, you can level it up as usual. But if not, you can immediately discard it.

Can you use Gemcutter’s Prisms on a corrupted gem?

No, you can’t. The gem quality vendor recipe doesn’t work either. But the gem still gains experience, so you can still level it.

What are the best and worst gems to have quality on? (Tier List)

All gems were not created equal. This includes base damage, range, damage effectiveness, area, and usability in general. And the same goes for gem quality. Here’s a gem quality tier list for both active skill and support gems .

(note: this tier list doesn’t represent the actual usefulness of the gem itself, but just the quality bonuses):

Active Skill Gem Quality

S-Tier:

Projectile Weakness, Pride, Shield Charge, Convocation, Despair, Detonate Mines, Portal, Vaal Breach

A-Tier:

Blink Arrow, Cobra Lash, Dash, Dual Strike, Flicker Strike, Frost Blades, Lancing Steel, Lightning Strike, Mirror Arrow, Phase Run, Shattering Steel, Smoke Mine, Spectral Shield Throw, Summon Ice Golem, Temporal Chains, Vaal Impurity of Ice, Vaal Lightning Strike, Withering Step, Ancestral Cry, Animate Guardian, Dread Banner, General’s Cry, Infernal Cry, Intimidating Cry, Rallying Cry, Rejuvenation Totem, Seismic Cry, Steelskin, Summon Flame Golem, Summon Stone Golem, Vaal Impurity of Fire, War Banner, Arcanist Brand, Bane, Brand Recall, Elemental Weakness, Flame Dash, Freezing Pulse, Ice Spear, Lightning Trap, Pyroclast Mine, Raise Zombie, Stormblast Mine, Summon Carrion Golem, Summon Chaos Golem, Summon Lightning Golem, Summon Skitterbots, Vaal Impurity of Lightning

B-Tier:

Animate Weapon, Blade Blast, Blade Vortex, Bladefall, Blast Rain, Caustic Arrow, Cyclone, Desecrate, Elemental Hit, Ethereal Knives, Explosive Trap, Galvanic Arrow, Herald of Agony, Herald of Ice, Ice Trap, Lacerate, Plague Bearer, Poacher’s Mark, Rain of Arrows, Riposte, Scourge Arrow, Shrapnel Ballista, Siege Ballista, Tornado Shot, Toxic Rain, Vaal Blade Vortex, Vaal Cyclone, Vaal Detonate Dead, Vaal Rain of Arrows, Viper Strike, Volatile Dead, Wild Strike, Ancestral Protector, Ancestral Warchief, Berserk, Chain Hook, Consecrated Path, Decoy Totem, Devouring Totem, Dominating Blow, Earthquake, Earthshatter, Ground Slam, Heavy Strike, Herald of Ash, Herald of Purity, Holy Flame Totem, Ice Crash, Infernal Blow, Perforate, Reckoning, Searing Bond, Shockwave Totem, Smite, Sunder, Sweep, Tectonic Slam, Vaal Ancestral Warchief, Vaal Earthquake, Vaal Ground Slam, Warlord’s Mark, Assassin’s Mark, Blight, Cold Snap, Contagion, Creeping Frost, Dark Pact, Discharge, Divine Ire, Enfeeble, Fireball, Firestorm, Flameblast, Glacial Cascade, Herald of Thunder, Ice Nova, Icicle Mine, Kinetic Blast, Kinetic Bolt, Lightning Warp, Magma Orb, Penance Brand, Power Siphon, Purifying Flame, Raise Spectre, Scorching Ray, Spark, Spellslinger, Storm Burst, Storm Call, Summon Holy Relic, Summon Raging Spirit, Summon Skeletons, Vaal Blight, Vaal Cold Snap, Vaal Fireball, Vaal Flameblast, Vaal Ice Nova, Vaal Lightning Trap, Vaal Power Siphon, Vaal Spark, Vaal Storm Call, Vaal Summon Skeletons, Vortex, Wave of Conviction

C-Tier:

Arctic Armour, Artillery Ballista, Barrage, Bear Trap, Blade Flurry, Blood Rage, Charged Dash, Cremation, Detonate Dead, Double Strike, Ensnaring Arrow, Fire Trap, Flamethrower Trap, Frenzy, Ice Shot, Puncture, Reave, Seismic Trap, Spectral Throw, Split Arrow, Unearth, Vaal Double Strike, Vaal Reave, Vaal Spectral Throw, Whirling Blades, Bladestorm, Blood and Sand, Cleave, Enduring Cry, Flesh and Stone, Immortal Call, Molten Shell, Molten Strike, Static Strike, Vaal Molten Shell, Vengeance, Vigilant Strike, Arcane Cloak, Armageddon Brand, Ball Lightning, Bodyswap, Conversion Trap, Essence Drain, Flame Surge, Frost Bomb, Frost Wall, Frostbolt, Incinerate, Lightning Tendrils, Orb of Storms, Righteous Fire, Soulrend, Storm Brand, Stormbind, Tempest Shield, Vaal Righteous Fire, Winter Orb, Wither

D-Tier:

Burning Arrow, Explosive Arrow, Pestilent Strike, Vaal Burning Arrow, Venom Gyre, Glacial Hammer, Punishment, Vaal Glacial Hammer, Vulnerability, Bone Offering, Flammability, Flesh Offering, Frostbite, Frostblink, Shock Nova, Siphoning Trap, Spirit Offering, Vaal Arc, Wintertide Brand

E-Tier:

Lightning Arrow, Arc, Conductivity, Lightning Spire Trap

F-Tier:

Grace*, Haste*, Hatred*, Precision*, Purity of Ice*, Vaal Grace*, Vaal Haste*, Anger*, Determination*, Leap Slam, Purity of Fire*, Vitality*, Clarity*, Discipline*, Malevolence*, Purity of Elements*, Purity of Lightning*, Vaal Clarity*, Vaal Discipline*, Wrath*, Zealotry*

*S-tier for support builds

For a full list of active skill gems and their quality stats, check out poedb.tw

Support Skill Gem Quality

S-Tier:

Cast on Death Support, Enhance Support, Awakened Generosity Support, Awakened Melee Physical Damage Support, Empower Support*, Item Quantity Support**, Awakened Blasphemy Support, Awakened Curse On Hit Support, Enlighten Support, Infernal Legion Support

A-Tier:

Additional Accuracy Support, Awakened Chain Support, Awakened Swift Affliction Support, Chance to Flee Support, Impale Support, Onslaught Support, Awakened Ancestral Call Support, Awakened Brutality Support, Awakened Burning Damage Support, Awakened Melee Splash Support, Generosity Support, Inspiration Support, Awakened Spell Cascade Support, Blasphemy Support, Curse On Hit Support, Elemental Army Support, Increased Critical Damage Support

B-Tier:

Awakened Arrow Nova Support, Awakened Cast On Critical Strike Support, Awakened Fork Support, Awakened Greater Multiple Projectiles Support, Blind Support, Block Chance Reduction Support, Cast On Critical Strike Support, Chain Support, Greater Volley Support, Hypothermia Support, Multiple Traps Support, Nightblade Support, Second Wind Support, Volley Support, Awakened Multistrike Support, Ballista Totem Support, Cold to Fire Support, Fist of War Support, Increased Duration Support, Less Duration Support, Life Gain on Hit Support, Melee Splash Support, Multiple Totems Support, Shockwave Support, Spell Totem Support, Urgent Orders Support, Awakened Controlled Destruction Support, Awakened Elemental Focus Support, Awakened Minion Damage Support, Awakened Spell Echo Support, Awakened Unbound Ailments Support, Awakened Unleash Support, Feeding Frenzy Support, Increased Critical Strikes Support, Infused Channelling Support, Meat Shield Support, Minion Life Support, Power Charge On Critical Support, Spell Cascade Support, Summon Phantasm Support, Swiftbrand Support

C-Tier:

Advanced Traps Support, Arrow Nova Support, Awakened Cold Penetration Support, Awakened Deadly Ailments Support, Awakened Vicious Projectiles Support, Awakened Void Manipulation Support, Barrage Support, Charged Traps Support, Close Combat Support, Cluster Traps Support, Culling Strike Support, Deadly Ailments Support, Faster Attacks Support, Faster Projectiles Support, Fork Support, Greater Multiple Projectiles Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support, Mirage Archer Support, Pierce Support, Point Blank Support, Slower Projectiles Support, Swift Affliction Support, Swift Assembly Support, Trap and Mine Damage Support, Trap Support, Vile Toxins Support, Ancestral Call Support, Awakened Added Fire Damage Support, Awakened Elemental Damage With Attacks Support, Awakened Fire Penetration Support, Burning Damage Support, Cast on Melee Kill Support, Cast when Damage Taken Support, Damage on Full Life Support, Fortify Support, Iron Grip Support, Iron Will Support, Knockback Support, Pulverise Support, Rage Support, Ruthless Support, Arcane Surge Support, Archmage Support, Awakened Cast While Channelling Support, Awakened Increased Area Of Effect Support, Awakened Lightning Penetration Support, Blastchain Mine Support, Cast when Stunned Support, Cast while Channelling Support, Charged Mines Support, Concentrated Effect Support, Controlled Destruction Support, Deathmark Support, Efficacy Support, Elemental Focus Support, Faster Casting Support, High-Impact Mine Support, Increased Area of Effect Support, Intensify Support, Item Rarity Support, Minefield Support, Minion Damage Support, Minion Speed Support, Physical to Lightning Support, Spell Echo Support, Unleash Support

D-Tier:

Added Cold Damage Support, Awakened Added Cold Damage Support, Cold Penetration Support, Lesser Poison Support, Poison Support, Vicious Projectiles Support, Void Manipulation Support, Withering Touch Support, Added Fire Damage Support, Brutality Support, Chance to Bleed Support, Elemental Damage with Attacks Support, Fire Penetration Support, Maim Support, Melee Physical Damage Support, Multistrike Support, Added Chaos Damage Support, Added Lightning Damage Support, Awakened Added Chaos Damage Support, Awakened Added Lightning Damage Support, Combustion Support, Decay Support, Elemental Proliferation Support, Ignite Proliferation Support, Immolate Support, Innervate Support, Lightning Penetration Support, Unbound Ailments Support

E-Tier:

Ice Bite Support, Blood Magic Support, Bloodlust Support, Life Leech Support, Stun Support, Energy Leech Support

F-Tier:

Mana Leech Support, Endurance Charge on Melee Stun Support, Bonechill Support

*only while leveling, drops to E-Tier when max level

**drop disabled

For a full list of support gems and their quality stats, check out poedb.tw

How to use extra/unused gems to get more Gemcutter’s Prisms

To get some extra GCPs at any point in the game, you can use these two vendor recipes. The first one is to vendor gems with a combined quality of 40%. For example, 5% +6% +7% +8% +14%= 40%. This is useful for recycling the random quality gems that drop all the time.

Gemcutter's Prism Vendor Recipe 1

The second one is to vendor a gem with 20% quality. This is useful to recycle cheap or bad 20% quality gems like Mirror Arrow or Blink Arrow.

Gemcutter's Prism Vendor Recipe 2

You’ll probably get to use the first recipe way more than the second one, but both can be useful!

Anything else you’d like to know about Gem Quality?

If there’s any other question you’d like answered about Gem quality, feel free to ask in the comments. I’ll be sure to reply and try to help out. Thanks for reading and have an awesome day, exile!