Diablo 3 Strategy: Which Gem to Socket in the Helm?

A perennial fan discussion topic came up recently with a blue serving as the usual catalyst for others to notice it. What type of Diablo 3 strategy gems do you usually socket into your headgear?

Just curious as to what you think of players having a red gem in their helms? I have used one while leveling my characters to level 60 (paragon 0) which I think is sensible. But lately I’ve noticed many players in pub games MP8 to 10 clearly undergeared with red gems in their helms, predictably they die a lot, sure the experience must be great but all that dying cant be much fun of an experience.
Grimiku: This is a great topic, and something I’ve recently been thinking about too. I’m guilty of habitually using red gems for my helmet, but recently my buddies have been trying to get me into MP10 games where I’m dying more frequently than I’d like. I know I should swap to an amethyst, but I’m reluctant to give up that XP boost.

I think I’m just going to buy another version of my set helm for low MP farming, and put a ruby in that. Anyone else buy two helms as a solution?

If you need a reminder of what the gems do, the DiabloWikiGems article in the wiki is a useful resource. It’s also got cumulative charts listing full gem upgrade costs, which can be very helpful to compare to the AH prices for higher level gems. For instance, creating a Radiant Star gem requires 15.4m gold in Jeweler fees, 1631 Tomes of Secret, and 729 Flawless Squares. (And a Marquise requires 3 of those plus 20m gold and 10 Demonic Essences.)

You’ll probably need to buy some/most of those ToS and gems so that cost has to be factored in, but there are often market inequalities with the higher level gems selling for a lot more than the price of the gems + ToS + Jeweler fees. And since v1.08 added auto-crafting, you can queue up 100+ crafts, alt+tab out to check your email, and check back 5 minutes later when they’re finished.

Many of us speculated that auto-crafting would result in lower prices for high level gems in v1.08, since the nuisance and time wasting of doing all the clicking yourself was gone… but I haven’t really noticed any difference on Radiant Star prices. (In Hardcore that price varies widely with the fluctuations in ToS prices.) Has anyone followed that market closely pre and post patch? I’m just curious.

And speaking of curiosity, here’s the point of this post, at last. What sort of gems do you guys usually use in your hats? Like most (?) players I favor Rubies for the EXP greed, switching to an Amethyst once in a while for the big HPs boost (anti-Ubers). That said, I’ve regularly made use of the huge Topaz MF boost as well, especially when I’m leveling in the P30-60 range and my character is near the semi-mythical 300% MF goal.

Think of it this way: rubies provide a slight boost to EXP gain, but if your goal is to reach a higher Paragon level since that will boost your MF… why not just use a gem that instantly grants the MF equivalent of 9 Paragon levels? Since when are Diablo 3 players content to grind along, gaining minimal rewards in exchange for a largely-theoretical long term reward? *

Also, since only Amys have any function at P100, can you guys with a max level main vote in terms of what you used while leveling? Kthx.

What type of gem do you usually socket in your helm?

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* Oh right… that’s the whole point of the game and the item-based ARPG genre in general… Well then.


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  1. dead heroes gain 0 xp.
    Screw that red thingy 😀

  2. Ruby ofcourse…

  3. It’s funny, when I was originally levelling all 5 classes (all are +60 now) I never used a ruby in any helm. The xp curve wile levelling is well made, you’re usually level 58ish in act 4 hell, and are always finding stuff you can equip (meeting level requirements) so I don’t ever see a reason to speed up the 0-60 game.

    Anyways as I was saying, now that it’s all end-game I use a ruby in 4 of the 5 class helms. (The last one doesn’t have a socket.)

  4. Buy two helms? Why yes, I’ll gladly flush millions of gold down the toilet instead of taking 10 seconds and pocket change to swap gems. It’s so simple and elegant! -_-

    • Don’t most people have 2 diff helms? I don’t mean for diff chars, but I’ve generally had a survival helm and a farming helm for my mains.

      My current HC Monk has two Inna’s: farming one is like 165/85 (dex/vit) with 15% MF and 1.97 spirit/sec regen, and a Ruby (though I crave topaz at times) and I wear it up to MP2 farming runs. Survival helm is like 187/168 with 55 Arcane res and an Amy, and I wear it for higher MP, Ubers, etc.

      • I use two different helms in the way you mentioned if the opportunity presents itself and I happen to find a good farming helm or something. I can’t remember the last time that really happened though, and since higher end characters don’t need any extra MF help (and comparable helms would cost a lot to own simultaneously) I go the other route most of the time now. I keep spare gems to swap in and out rather than spare helms. Rubies 99% of the time; amethyst vs. ubers!

      • I can somewhat see your point, if I was playing HC and all that. But “most” seems like a conceit with the less-than-paltry numbers of HC players relative to everyone else.

        I just play on MP4 to 6 and don’t bother gear swapping on anyone. Well, played, since I’ve exceeded my 5 days of patience with the last patch.

      • It’s too expensive to afford that for most people. Most people are still working toward surviving so that they can farm.

  5. I usually use the amethyst. I suppose if the rest of my equipment was good enough, I could switch out for the ruby (esp with the stacking bonuses) but I think I would still prefer the larger life pool.

  6. I think tahat ametyst should have same % bonus to health as ruby gives to %XP, +33% to life from marquise looks very interesting.

    • That would be way OP for a bonus, IMHO. With item only giving up to 12% life, you can’t have triple that just from a helm. And imagine 36% life from the ruby in a Mempo? That’s damn near 50% life from a single item.

      I did want to mention the Emerald helm bonus, though. Seriously, who uses that? I don’t believe anyone does, and I think the votes for that are misclicks or bots. What would it take for emeralds in helms to be useful? Double? Triple? Quadruple the current gold gain? Allowing it to exceed the max 300% cap? Adding another bonus to the GF, like say a small bonus to IAS?

      Probably we’ll have to wait for D3X for such coolness, when they bring back jewels or runes or the like for socket variety.

      • OK, your argumentation is legit. I hope that after Jay departure, D3X will bring massive (positive)changes.

        I’m using ruby in the helmet, but seriously considering swapping to ametyst since I started playing on mp-6-7…

  7. Ruby for running lower MP’s when I’m just xp/item farming and I switch it out for an Amethyst when farming keys or Ubers at higher MP’s.

    I do believe upgrading gems is way too expensive compared to other crafts, items, etc. But the Marquises will get there eventually.

    • I finally re-installed it. Not bad at all with the wrapper.
      Two more levels and I get teleport !!!
      On topic though: I use a Ruby, but Amethyst is better for higher MP and Ubers.
      I just realised that when using my follower I am MF capped so a Topaz might not be optimal unless I change some of my gear (which is probably not happening soon).

  8. Attributing strategy to what gem you place into your socketed helm is… ROFLMAO. You either need hit points or you don’t. And the sad part is, those that need the hit points most often don’t use the Amethyst anyway.

    What’s more, the same can be said for every other socketed item. There is only one answer, no thought required. Weapons, crit damage. Armor, +primary stat.

    The devs made sure no thought was required. Don’t want to confuse anyone.

    • I realize that you enjoy being cynical and all, but you should really try not to disprove your own argument within the argument itself.

      First you say “Attributing strategy to what gem you place into your socketed helm is… ROFLMAO. You either need hit points or you don’t.” Followed by “What’s more, the same can be said for every other socketed item. There is only one answer, no thought required.”

      I’ll go slow for you. If you either need HP or you don’t… that would be two available options. That would also require at least a little thought. Just sayin’. The truth is that there are three viable options. It’s up to you to decide if your character will best benefit from bonus XP, bonus Life%, or bonus MF.

      You’re closer on Armor. While Main Stat is overwhelmingly the best option, Amethysts can be occasionally useful in suboptimal gear (especially in HC).

      I’ll (mostly) give it to you on weapons though. Once you’ve hit 60, there is basically no reason to ever use anything else. You have to give Rubies a tiny nod while leveling though, as Crit Damage gives much lower returns before you can start stacking significant Crit Chance around level 50 or so.

      Look, I’m not a big fan of how gems work in D3 (Can we have Diamonds back please?). And of course I’m hoping for Jewels or Runes in the expansion like everyone else. It’s far from an ideal system. Very far. But it’s not quite as bad as you’re making it out to be. Even in D2, not every gem was useful in every item. It makes sense that a gem that is currently ridiculously overpowered in one slot (Emeralds) would be damn near useless in another. Honestly, how much more valuable do you need Emeralds to be?

      TL;DR: Don’t overstate your argument. It makes it too easy to pick apart. Just trying to give a little advice for the future, because you’re actually mostly right.

  9. I couldn’t vote in this one because there is not a clear answer for me.

    I just finished leveling all the classes and getting them through Inferno (minimum MP2) last night. Yes, I’ve been putting that off forever… I just don’t enjoy the melee classes that much. The main by-product of that process has been that I’ve fallen into the habit of switching helm gems all the time. There is a bit of a pattern to it though:

    Rubies= XP farming on low MP, General farming on chars with MF over ~350MF (after NV & MP bonuses), every once in a while on the higher Paragon Level chars (over 30) to gain the permanent MF a little faster

    Amethysts= Ubers, Chars trying out higher MPs

    Topaz= Item farming on lower MF chars, just for the hell of it on the higher Paragon Level chars

    Emeralds= Never

    The one exception is my Wizard, who has no socket in her helm. She’s an Archon Wizard that wears a Stormcrow w/ Crit. Then again, the only thing I use her for is speed farming gems and Tomes on MP1 or MP2 (I refuse to buy gems or Tomes on the AH… while I use it occasionally for items and like the idea of it as a distribution method for rare or hard to get items, using it for gems, Tomes, or crafting materials feels just plain lazy to me).

  10. As a HC player, I always go for hit points.

    Staying alive is crucial in HC.

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