PoE Gem Quality Explained – Everything You Need to Know

Updated for 3.8. Path of Exile: Blight

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 highest 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. 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, etc.

Gem Quality Vendor Recipe Result Path of Exile

You also have a 16-20% chance to increase gem quality to 23% (from 20%) if you corrupt a gem. 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.

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, Temporal Chains, Despair, Detonate Mines

A-Tier:

Animate Guardian, Dread Banner, Enduring Cry, Flesh and Stone, Glacial Hammer, Immortal Call, Rallying Cry, Rejuvenation Totem, Shield Charge, Steelskin, Summon Flame Golem, Summon Stone Golem, Vaal Glacial Hammer, Vaal Impurity of Fire, Vigilant Strike, War Banner, Animate Weapon, Blink Arrow, Cobra Lash, Dash, Desecrate, Dual Strike, Flicker Strike, Frost Blades, Lightning Strike, Mirror Arrow, Pestilent Strike, Phase Run, Shattering Steel, Smoke Mine, Spectral Shield Throw, Summon Ice Golem, Vaal Impurity of Ice, Vaal Lightning Strike, Viper Strike, Bane, Brand Recall, Convocation, Elemental Weakness, Flame Dash, Freezing Pulse, Frostblink, Ice Spear, Lightning Trap, Raise Zombie, Shock Nova, Siphoning Trap, Summon Carrion Golem, Summon Chaos Golem, Summon Lightning Golem, Summon Raging Spirit, Summon Skitterbots, Stormblast Mine, Vaal Impurity of Lightning, Vaal Lightning Trap, Portal, Vaal Breach

B-Tier:

Abyssal Cry, Bladestorm, Blood and Sand, Chain Hook, Cleave, Consecrated Path, Decoy Totem, Ground Slam, Heavy Strike, Herald of Purity, Holy Flame Totem, Infernal Blow, Perforate, Reckoning, Smite, Static Strike, Sunder, Sweep, Tectonic Slam, Vaal Ground Slam, Vengeance, Warlord’s Mark, Blade Flurry, Blade Vortex, Bladefall, Blast Rain, Burning Arrow, Caustic Arrow, Charged Dash, Cyclone, Detonate Dead, Double Strike, Ethereal Knives, Explosive Trap, Frenzy, Herald of Agony, Ice Trap, Icicle Mine, Lacerate, Plague Bearer, Poacher’s Mark, Puncture, Rain of Arrows, Reave, Scourge Arrow, Shrapnel Shot, Siege Ballista, Spectral Throw, Split Arrow, Toxic Rain, Unearth, Vaal Blade Vortex, Vaal Burning Arrow, Vaal Cyclone, Vaal Detonate Dead, Vaal Double Strike, Vaal Rain of Arrows, Vaal Reave, Vaal Spectral Throw, Venom Gyre, Volatile Dead, Whirling Blades, Withering Step, Arctic Breath, Armageddon Brand, Assassin’s Mark, Blight, Bone Offering, Cold Snap, Conductivity, Contagion, Conversion Trap, Dark Pact, Discharge, Divine Ire, Enfeeble, Flesh Offering, Frost Wall, Frostbite, Ice Nova, Kinetic Blast, Lightning Warp, Purifying Flame, Scorching Ray, Spirit Offering, Storm Brand, Storm Burst, Storm Call, Summon Holy Relic, Vaal Blight, Vaal Cold Snap, Vaal Ice Nova, Vaal Storm Call, Vortex, Winter Orb, Wither

C-Tier:

Ancestral Protector, Ancestral Warchief, Berserk, Devouring Totem, Earthquake, Ice Crash, Molten Shell, Molten Strike, Searing Bond, Shockwave Totem, Vaal Ancestral Warchief, Vaal Earthquake, Vaal Molten Shell, Bear Trap, Blood Rage, Cremation, Elemental Hit, Fire Trap, Flamethrower Trap, Ice Shot, Riposte, Seismic Trap, Tornado Shot, Wild Strike, Ball Lightning, Bodyswap, Essence Drain, Firestorm, Flame Surge, Flameblast, Flammability, Frost Bomb, Frostbolt, Glacial Cascade, Incinerate, Lightning Tendrils, Magma Orb, Orb of Storms, Power Siphon, Pyroclast Mine, Raise Spectre, Righteous Fire, Soulrend, Spark, Summon Skeleton, Tempest Shield, Vaal Flameblast, Vaal Power Siphon, Vaal Righteous Fire, Vaal Spark, Vaal Summon Skeletons, Wave of Conviction,

D-Tier:

Dominating Blow, Herald of Ash, Leap Slam, Punishment, Vulnerability, Arctic Armour, Barrage, Explosive Arrow, Herald of Ice, Lancing Steel, Lightning Arrow, Arc, Fireball, Herald of Thunder, Lightning Spire Trap, Vaal Arc, Vaal Fireball

E-Tier:

Anger*, Determination*, Pride*, Purity of Fire*, Vitality*, Grace*, Hatred*, Haste*, Precision*, Purity of Ice*, Vaal Grace*, Vaal Haste*, 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:

Empower Support*, Item Quantity Support**, Cast on Death Support, Enhance Support*, Elemental Army Support, Enlighten Support*, Infernal Legion Support

A-Tier:

Cold to Fire Support, Generosity Support, Chance to Flee Support, Multiple Traps Support, Blasphemy Support, Curse On Hit Support, Elemental Proliferation Support, Increased Critical Damage Support, Innervate Support, Meat Shield Support, Physical to Lightning Support

B-Tier:

Ancestral Call Support, Increased Duration Support, Less Duration Support, Life Gain on Hit Support, Melee Splash Support, Multiple Totems Support, Ranged Attack Totem Support, Spell Totem Support, Additional Accuracy Support, Blind Support, Block Chance Reduction Support, Cast On Critical Strike Support, Chain Support, Culling Strike Support, Faster Attacks Support, Faster Projectiles Support, Fork Support, Greater Multiple Projectiles Support, Hypothermia Support, Impale Support, Lesser Multiple Projectiles Support, Nightblade Support, Swift Assembly Support, Trap Support, Vile Toxins Support, Volley Support, Blastchain Mine Support, Bonechill Support, Faster Casting Support, High-Impact Mine Support, Increased Critical Strikes Support, Infused Channelling Support, Minefield Support, Minion Damage Support, Minion Life Support, Minion Speed Support, Power Charge On Critical Support,  Spell Cascade Support, Summon Phantasm Support, Unbound Ailments Support

C-Tier:

Added Fire Damage Support, Brutality Support, Cast on Melee Kill Support, Cast when Damage Taken Support, Damage on Full Life Support, Elemental Damage with Attacks Support, Fire Penetration Support, Fortify Support, Iron Grip Support, Iron Will Support, Knockback Support, Maim Support, Melee Physical Damage Support, Multistrike Support, Pulverise Support, Rage Support, Ruthless Support, Shockwave Support, Added Cold Damage Support, Advanced Traps Support, Charged Traps Support, Close Combat Support, Cluster Traps Support, Cold Penetration Support, Deadly Ailments Support, Lesser Poison Support, Mirage Archer Support, Onslaught Support, Pierce Support, Point Blank Support, Poison Support, Slower Projectiles Support, Swift Affliction Support, Trap and Mine Damage Support, Vicious Projectiles Support, Void Manipulation Support, Withering Touch Support, Added Chaos Damage Support, Added Lightning Damage Support, Arcane Surge Support, Cast when Stunned Support, Cast while Channelling Support, Charged Mines Support, Combustion Support, Concentrated Effect Support, Controlled Destruction Support, Deathmark Support, Decay Support, Efficacy Support, Elemental Focus Support,Ignite Proliferation Support, Increased Area of Effect Support, Intensify Support,Item Rarity Support,Lightning Penetration Support, Spell Echo Support, Unleash Support

D-Tier:

Blood Magic Support, Burning Damage Support, Chance to Bleed Support, Inspiration Support, Life Leech Support, Ice Bite Support, Mana Leech Support, Energy Leech Support, Feeding Frenzy Support

E-Tier:

Bloodlust Support, Endurance Charge on Melee Stun Support, Stun 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!

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