POE 3.21: What Are Skill Gems And Links? - Beginner’s Guide

Gems and links are such a fundamental part of Path of Exile that you have to understand them. By the end of this article, you may know what I mean.


Gems are how your character gets their abilities. These are socketed in a corresponding color socket in your gear and have stats requirements to be used. A green gem in this case, Ice Shot will fit into your green socket here, and now I can fire a single arrow.

Gems come in two flavors: active and support gems. Active skill gems give you the actual abilities, while support gems buff the active gems or instead they could change them in some way.

Sockets come in four colors: red, blue and green and much later in the game or early, if you’re really lucky, white. White sockets will house a gem of any color.

POE Understanding Skill Gems and Links

Support Gems

If we take the added cold support gem, this adds cold damage to my attacks, making it do substantially more damage. If I hover over some support gems in my inventory, then this little control comes up to indicate which of the active gems I have socketed will be supported by the gem in question.

You can also somewhat work this out by matching the keywords from the top of each gem card. For support gems to work, they must be socketed in the same piece of gear as the active gem and be linked by one of offhand gems through these bars. 

Offhand Gems

If it isn’t linked, it will do nothing. Continue to get XP. It should also be noted that gems in your offhand weapons will also continue to gain XP, so use this to your advantage as your level. 

Now, for some examples of other gems that will mutate the skill, almost changing fundamentally how it reacts. The Arrow Nova Support causes my arrows to fire up into the air, and when it lands, it spreads out to the surrounding targets. 

Greater Multiple Projectiles, otherwise known as GMP, will increase the number of arrows and Volley Support will do the same, but the arrows will come out in parallel to the original. We can also combine these together to do crazy things like this. 

Related: How I Made Tons Of Currency With Ease In POE 3.21? - Zero Investment Strategy

Gear Sockets

Gems sometimes have a drawback as well as a buff. For instance, GMP reduces the damage to the original scale whilst giving it the extra projectiles. 

Different pieces of gear have a differing number of maximum sockets. Most gear has a maximum of four except for body armor and items that go in weapon slots. Body armor as well as two-handed weapons can have up to 6-Linked sockets, whereas one-handed weapons and shields can only have three. This maximum does take a while to achieve and is based on the level of the item. Lower-level items will have fewer maximum slots.

How To Get Gear Links?

So, how do you get gear with the right sockets and links?

Initially, these will come from vendors in towns or from items that drop. If your vendor doesn’t have what you’re looking for, then check back later, as the fender will get some new items each time you’re level.

In previous leagues, this used to be a complete refresh. But as of POE 3.21, items will persist between levels, with only the oldest items being swapped out. If you’re lucky enough to drop an Orb of Binding early, this will allow you to take a normal item and turn it into a rare as well as giving it falling sockets. It will retain the colors already on the original gear and just add missing ones colored randomly. Do not use these on an item that is five or six linked or you may cry.

POE Chromatic Orb

Later in the game, you’ll start it to have a mass enough POE Currency to be able to craft the sockets links and colors on your gear to make the gear the most optimal for your build. The Jeweler’s Orb will re-roll the number of sockets randomly. The Orb of Fusing will add random links and the Chromatic Orb will re-roll the colors.

Vendor Recipes 

There are vendor recipes for both the Chromatic Orb and the Jeweler’s Orb. 

For a Chromatic Orb, get any item that is red, green and blue linked. For the Jeweler’s orb, find any six socket item not linked and sell it to a vendor.

There are also currency vendors in Act 4 and Act 9 that will allow you to train Jeweler’s orbs for the other two. 

Later in the game, you can also drop powerful items that will have active and support gems built in. And any gems socketed in the item will be affected by or will affect them as if they were linked to them. 

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