Sockets, Gems & Links

What are Gems?

The abilities you use in Path of Exile are unique, they do not come from classes or ascendancies, they come from skill gems that you can purchase in-game for cheap currency. Currently, Path of Exile has 272 total active skill gems and 174 support skill gems which gives players a great opportunity to try something new every time they play.

Active Skill Gems

Active skill gems are skills that you can activate yourself for a mana cost.

Support Skill Gems

Support skill gems enhance the power of your active skill gems giving them many different effects for example more projectiles, more damage & enhanced ailment effects.

Vaal Skill Gems

Some skills have an additional skill called a “Vaal” skill, these skills are a result of corrupting using a Vaal Orb, these skills do not cost mana or life, they require you to kill X amount of monsters and then you can activate then before placing them on cooldown. They cast a similar, more powerful variant of the active gems skill.

How Do I Use Gems?

When you first create your character in Path of Exile you will start with only an auto-attack, you will then grab two gems as you progress through the start, an active skill gem and a support skill gem. To use your active skill gems you have to place the gem into a “socket” on one of your equipped items with the corresponding colour, if you want to support that skill to make it more powerful you need another socket on that item and it needs to be linked with the socket your active skill gem is in.

six links on a shavronnes wrappings
Shavronnes Wrappings with 6 fused links.

The most you can support an active skill gem with is 5 support gems in one item, this item has to have six links and six sockets, only two-handed weapons and body armour pieces can have 6 maximum sockets. Check out the table below to see the maximum number of sockets each piece of gear can have in Path of Exile.

Item TypeMaximum Number of Sockets
Body Armour6 Sockets
Two-Handed Weapon6 Sockets
Gloves4 Sockets
Helmet4 Sockets
Boots4 Sockets
Shield3 Sockets
One-Handed Weapon3 Sockets
Unset Rings1 Socket

An item can only reach 6 sockets if it is item level 50 or above.

Linking an item is easy, the normal & most common way is to use an Orb of Fusing, make sure the item you are trying to link is maximum quality as it increases your chances of hitting the maximum number of links.

How Do I Decide Which Support Skills To Use?

There are so many different gems in Path of Exile it can be tricky trying to think of what you should use specifically, as a new player I’d advise following a build guide until you’re familiar with a few particular gem setups, you should pick up the general idea after you try a few different builds.

Next: Basic Currencies