Ret Pally – Gems

Retribution Paladin Gems are current as of Cataclysm, Patch 4.0, Patch 4.0.6 and Patch 4.1.  The Retribution Paladin gem priorities are pretty much the same in Cataclysm.  With the new stat changes, Ret Paladins will be wanting to gem pure strength.  Ignore the socket bonuses, strength will provide the greatest DPS gain, even surpassing hit and expertise.  At this point in the game, strength is such a powerhouse stat, that we will be wanting to pile it as high as we can.

Q:  Are you under the hit and expertise cap?
A: Gem strength.  Gear and reforging should be used to reach hit and expertise caps.  Expertise cap can also be helped with Glyph of Seal of Truth.

Q:  When should I gem something other than strength?
A: Strength should always be a part of the gem you are using. If you want to use a hybrid gem (orange or green), then the socket bonus must be a minimum +20 strength.

Retribution Paladin Gems


Strength (Red Slot)

Strength in Cataclysm is such a titanic proponent of our damage, that gemming any hybrid gem is currently a DPS loss, even when trying to reach hit or expertise caps. If you must hit these, try Reforging instead. Should this priority change, I will be sure to give you the information as soon as it is announced!

The only reason to match a yellow or blue socket is if the socket bonus is +20 strength or more.  In which case, the following gems may be used (listed in priority):

Orange Gems (Yellow Slot)

Purple Gems (Blue Slot)

With no prismatic +all stats gem currently available, if you must gem a blue slot, it needs to be Etched Demonseye.  Again, this is only if the socket bonus is +20 strength or more.

Retribution Paladin Gem Socket Examples

  • Red = R
  • Yellow = Y
  • Blue = B

*Assume socket bonus is +20 Strength or more

Gear has the following gem slots:

  • R = 1x Red gem
  • Y = 1x Orange gem
  • B = 1x Blue Gem
  • RR = 2x Red gems
  • RY = 1x Red gem, 1x Orange gem
  • RB = 1x Red gem, 1x Blue gem
  • YY = 2x Red gems
  • YB = 2x Red gems
  • BB = 2x Red gems
  • RRR = 3x Red gems
  • RRY = 2x Red gems, 1x Orange gem
  • RRB = 2x Red gems, 1x Blue Gem
  • RYY = 3x Red gems
  • RYB = 3x Red gems
  • RBB = 3x Red gems
  • YYY = 3x Red gems
  • BBB = 3x Red gems


  1. brad says:

    i had a question i had a arms warrior right when ulduar first came out and as i started to get geared out i came across a topic where ppl were debating whether or not to stack str or armor pen for melee dps classes like warriors, pallys, druids, and hunters. i was curious i just started a new account where im leveling a ret pally, which is great i love it, but i wanted to know at 80 is it still beneficial to stack str or should i move toward stacking armor pen like i see so many 80 melee dps do these day

  2. Khor says:

    As of right now, we are still stacking all strength. Much of the gear we are seeing in ToC has armor pen on it, but strength is still our heavy hitting stat you will want to go all out on.

  3. Nathan says:

    Hi Khor,

    Love your site, just had a question. Would “Nightmare Tear” be a worthy option to fill a blue socket? I think the +10 agil is a better stat than the +10 str on the purple gems? Am I correct in thinking this will satisfy the requirements for “Relentless Earthsiege Diamond”?

  4. Nathan says:

    Sry i meant to say ” I think the +10 agil is a better stat than the +10 sta on the purple gems?”

  5. Khor says:

    I think you may be right. I’ll have to amend the list (I’m currently re-doing the gems page layout). I’d defintely opt for that if it’s a viable option based on your gear and gem set-up. I’d take the +agi over +stam anyday!

  6. Blakevill says:

    Sorry, I’m a noob with an 80. I was wondering if you could put up some blue gems because you have the two recommended meta gems which require blue gem(s). Correct me if I’m wrong… maybe there isn’t a certain blue gem that is useful to ret pallies. Actually, I looked it up in the Armory. Seems like they only have stamina, spirit, and spell penetration gems. By the way, thanks for all this information! You’re website is awesome!

  7. Khor says:

    There really isn’t a solid blue gem you will be wanting to use. The Relentless Earthsiege Diamond requires one blue gem, and that can be met by a prismatic gem, such as a [Nightmare Tear]. That’s the route you’d want to go.

    If you can’t afford a prismatic gem, then you can always slap a Sovereign Dreadstone or Twilight Opal in there for the time being.

  8. Blakevill says:

    Thanks so much!

  9. BrightKnight says:


    I am a level 80 ret pali. What I need help with is this:

    Gemming for max melee damage AND max damage from our spells.



  10. BrightKnight says:

    Also forgot to ask this:

    Since a +40 attack red gem is supppsed to equal +20 str, what would be the reason to NOT use the +40 att gem?

  11. BrightKnight says:

    Ok folks let me clear this post up as it is misleading:


    Nathan said:

    Hi Khor,

    Love your site, just had a question. Would “Nightmare Tear” be a worthy option to fill a blue socket? I think the +10 agil is a better stat than the +10 str on the purplegems? Am I correct in thinking this will satisfy the requirements for “Relentless Earthsiege Diamond”?
    # 19 November 2009 at 4:52 am
    Nathan said:

    Sry i meant to say ” I think the +10 agil is a better stat than the +10 sta on the purple gems?”
    # 19 November 2009 at 4:53 am


    The gem is a +10 ALL STATS. NOT any one stat. ALL STATS. So this does make a very good option (the best in my opinion for what it is worth) for a blue socket.

  12. Aaron says:

    I am having a dilemma with my pally dps. I tried all str gems in my red slots and all crit gems in my red slots and am trying to see which is doing more dps. My hit cap because of my gear is 18.97%. I added crit gems because my crit was low now it ranges from 33 to 37 percent depening on buffs with crit gems. I am confused what should i go with

  13. Khor says:


    First, you should be worrying only about max melee damage. Forget spell damage. Spell damage does a veru insignificant amount of our overall damage output. You are going to want to make sure you are hit capped (which is easily obtainable with gear), and then go all out on strength. The ONLY exception is if you have 2pc T9 bonus, where crit is highly valuable. At this point, any yellow slots with +str socket bonuses can have +str/+crit gems in them.

    Second, the +20 strength is valued over the +40 AP for several reasons. First, in your Ret build, [Divine Strength] will automatically give you 15% more strength, adding additional AP. And also, buffs such as Blessing of Kings add a % of stats, such as strength and agility. This renders any AP gems useless 🙁

    Hope this helps!

  14. Khor says:

    Hey Aaron, do you have an armory link, or perhaps your name and toon for us to look at? Your hit is about 10% over the hit cap, yikes! Crit is good to gem for, when used in yellow slots as +str/+crit and the gem slot bonus is additional strength. Otherwise, strength scales too well for us to pass up. If you have 2 piece T9, go with +str/+crit gems…otherwise it’s still strength all the way. That’s the best I can do until I see your gear!

  15. corrinapearl says:

    i am so confused as to what i need i thought resiliance was the best for any toon in pvp? also what about critical strike? hmmmmm helpa woman out please lol I want to have my dps respected, do major damage in arenas, and overal kick ass in bg’s lol

  16. Khor says:

    Hey Corrina…just so you know this is for PvE content. As far as PvP DPS goes, I don’t have much to say except most quick searches I did recommend going all out on strength Hope this helps a little bit!

  17. Mike says:

    As a blacksmith with 3 prismatic sockets, are nightmare tears better to equip than bold cardinal rubies? I’m not sure if I should be going pure strenght or for the overall stat boost.

  18. Khor says:

    Hey Mike, rule of thumb says only one Nightmare Tear, with the rest being Bold Red Gems. The DPS increase from the bold gems outweighs the Nightmare Tear stats. Only exception is using Str/Crit Orange gems in yellow sockets with a +Str socket bonus. Hope this helps!

  19. Zelyn says:

    Please share some advice and comments on my char. Thanks in advanced!

  20. gunslingr says:


    hello zelyn, I tried to check out your armory page, but you logged in holy gear so i had to check you out on wow-heroes. I noticed that for the most part, you’re stats seem to be in order, I didn’t check on worldoflogs, but I imagine a parse of your dps would put you at around 8k dps in a 25 man setting, perhaps a little higher depending on your procs. Have you had trouble finding a new weapon?

    I’ve noticed that you are using 3 pieces of t10 with a 10 icc helm and 25 icc chest. My advice to you would be to adjust your gear to using 2 pc t9 and 2pc t10 until you can complete your t10 4 pc bonus, it will yield you higher dps than using those higher lvl items.

    I also noticed that you are using the crafted icc plate boots, which are a viable option, however if you have the saronite to spare, I would craft the leather boots instead, they account for a higher dps amount as well. You should try to switch out one of these pieces [cloak,neck,bracers,boots,ring] for an agility based item, such as a rogue piece. As a certain point of attack power, it works out well for us to use a couple of agiliy off pieces items for the crit chance.

    Sry for the long response, I just enjoy helping other ret pallys. This is my armory link if you were curious as to my current gear setup. I pull at or around 10k dps on festergut in 25 man settings, although hopefully that will increase once I can get a 4 pc t10 bonus 😉

  21. Khor says:

    Very well said Gun! I concur! Crit is very important with 2 T9, 2 T10, so having some agility pieces is a good way to boost that stat.

  22. Yasuma says:

    I see alot of Ret pallies gem high end t10 content gear different ways. Although this wasnt asked i do have a few rules when it comes to gemming my retri. Gem strength of couse all the way, to get meta requirement use Nightmare tear and ametrine for yellow. On items that have sockets and socket bonus’s heres my rule. If the mini socket bonus on the item Yeilds 6 or more strength and one of them sockets is red gem it how it should be, for examle Blood Soaked Saronite stompers have a red and yellow socket, so cardinal ruby in one ametrine on another. However, if a socket on a ring, or neck for example that yeilds 4 strength as a mini socket bonus and is yellow i would gem this with 20 strength. For example the AhnKahar neckgaurd from icc 25. Has a yellow socket wich yeilds 4 strength bonus, so i gemmed it with a cardinal ruby, my jewelcrafting one to be precise. When your after a socket that has 8 strength as a mini bonus then deffoantely go for it, however there is another rule. I recently picked up Blade Scored Carapace Heroic, from deathbringer saurfang, this chest has an 8 strength mini socket bonus. However to obtain it you must use 2 ametrines and 1 blue gem. In my opinion the gemmed to reach that isnt worth the loss of straight up 60 strength that 3 cardinal rubys would give.

    Yasuma – Hellfire

  23. Peter says:

    Only using 1 blue ( Nightmare tear ) to activate meta.. Rest is pure strenght.

  24. Khor says:

    Yasuma, I agree with you. One of my rules is: if there is a blue gem slot, no matter what other gem slots there are or slot bonuses, everything is a red bold gem. No ifs, ands, or buts. Any blue gem slot to me means that item is solid red gems.

  25. Sputty says:

    Fantastic site and information. You have already cleared up many questions I had by just reading your responses to other players. Thanks for that! I did have one question. I know t10 gear can be either 251 or 264 level gear. And I assume t9 is 245 level. Is the level the only thing that determines if gear is t10, t9, t8, etc.? In other words, if I mixed 2 different sets (say lightsworn with turylon) but they were all 251 level would that be considered t10 gear? Hope I’m making sense and thanks for wading through this. I’m a bit of a newbie and still trying to figure things out. Thanks…

  26. James says:

    Wow what a great site, good job! Thing is i have been strugglin gettin my dps up on my retri palla, i have a 5.2gs an sometimes my dps can be as low as 2.7 i realise different areas can make a big difference but 2.7 seems too low. Could one of you hard hitting palla’s check out my character an see if there is any suggestions/advice you could give me to get my dps up

    I realise i have a pvp belt but cant see any better (in my eyes) to buy with emblems of triumphs (frost no go for while just spent all up on shoulders)
    I plan to change all my gems to +20 strenght when i get more gold but other than that can any of you guys see any obvious that could help me
    Thanks in advance, you guys rock!!!

  27. Khor says:

    Hey Sputty! Thanks! I’m glad this site has been able to help! Tier sets refer to the class-specific gear pieces dropped in a certain dungeon(s), which I am sure you alread know.

    T9 refers to all Tier pieces associated with the Crusader’s Coliseum: Trial of the Champion. T9 has the following item levels:

    ilvl 232 – Normal ToC 10-man
    ilvl 245 – Normal ToC 25 and Heroic ToC 10
    ilvl 258 – Heroic ToC 25

    Likewise, with ICC, Tier 10 pieces are now available and follow the following format:

    ilvl 251 – Normal ICC 10
    ilvl 264 – Normal ICC 25 and Heroic ICC 10
    ilvl 277 – Heroic ICC 25

    Turalyon’s is T9 and Lightsworn is T10. Hope this helps! If I didn’t answer your question, feel free to post back!

  28. Khor says:

    Hey James, I took a look at your Paladin, and you seem to be pretty solid. There are a couple tweaks you could make, but none of them would be enough to sink your DPS to unsatisfyingly low levels.

    Your weapon is probably the largest factor of these, and just by upgrading that you will notice a DPS boost. It’s a solid weapon, don’t get me wrong, but you will see your numbers go up with better weapons.

    Second, you have a couple purple gems slotted to reach stat bonuses. The only purple gem you really need is the Nightmare Tear, and everything else should be bold +strength gems. If you choose to gem for slot bonuses, then the only viable option with T9 and above is to gem an orange +str/+crit gem into a yellow slot, where the bonus is +str. Otherwise, it’s a DPS loss not to gem all strength.

    Third, if you can find a way to get your expertise capped to 26 without gemming for it, you’ll see some help there as well. This isn’t crucial, but if you can make it happen, that’d be some additional help.

    So that would have me ask you if there is something you are doing during boss fights that is leading to lower DPS.

    – Are you keeping Seal of Vengeance up and active at all times?
    – Are you following the FCFS rotation of Judge-DS-CS-HoW-Cons-Ex?
    – Is you character in combat for the entire duration of the fight, i.e. not running around, or finding yourself out of place during encounters?

  29. James says:

    Hi Khor,Thanks for quick reply.

    My boss encounters arent so bad normally hit about 3.7 (is that bad?) just the rest i normally do heroics with my cousin who is a warrior 5kgs an his dps is always a lot higher than mine, I started using that rotation an it has improved things not greatly though.

    Where can i get a new weapon from i cant find any apart from battered hilt reward (which i got no chance of getting) and ICC which i dont think im quite geared up fro that yet.

    Thanks again

  30. Khor says:

    @ James – Actually, I think you’re pretty solid on gear for the first 4 bosses of ICC at least. If you can find a way to eek out some more DPS, perhaps bosses beyond that are possible too.

    As far as weapons go, you could try for a ToC 25 man normal 245 weapon, but honestly, I’d just skip that and see if you can’t get into an ICC 10 or 25 normal. Marrowgar is the first boss and he drops excellent weapons in both 10 and 25. Well worth a PUG if you can get these upgrades.

    In regards to 3.7k DPS…if you’re talking about ICC here, her e are my thoughts…

    – Marrowgar – 3.7k is a bit on the low side. My first thought would be to ask if you are keeping SoV up on Bonestorm? That right there might be a huge fix.

    – Deathwhisper – 3.7k with your current gear set up might isn’t far from accurate with your current gear set-up. My suggestion would be to make sure that once adds are down, you are running immediately to the boss to DPS on her shield. SoC for adds, switch to SoV for boss, rinse and repeat until phase 2.

    – Gunship – Unless you are staying on the boat to help with adds, don’t expect much out of your DPS numbers here.

    – Saurfang – I’d be really interested to know what you DPS is for this guy. That will really tell where your true DPS lies since all we do is just sit here and bash his head in. I doubt you’re pulling 3.7k here, probably much more 🙂

  31. James says:

    Hi Khor,

    Thanks again for your quick reply, im working on saving up for battered hillt so hopefully that will sort my weapon problem out.

    You seem to know your stuff would you be able to give me a armoury link to one of your retri palla’s please just so i have something to aim to, assuming you have one lol.

    Many Thanks


  32. Khor says:

    Hey James, sure, here’s some links for ya:

    WoW Armory I am Khor on the US Shadowsong server: [Profile]

    At the time of this comment I am in healing gear tho 🙁

    On, you can search for me as well under US Shadowsong, Khor…my Ret gear is visible there in its entirety!

  33. Fabio says:

    Hello I was wondering if you could check me out and see if i need any changes cause i been seeing lately lots of paladins with leather so not very sure if i should do that for crit chance, my highest single target has been 8.3k saurfang 25, that was before i got the boots, chest, bracer’s, drop ring and expertise trinket. Would really appreciate the help 🙂

  34. Fabio says:
  35. Zethro says:

    I was wondering.. Does this mean, that when I’m hit capped, I should only gem pure strength?

  36. Zethro says:

    Can anyone please reply to this? :p

  37. Lazarectius says:

    Some loladins (as u got a crapload of them on all the servers)
    Stack full 20str and nothing less, i find this verry funny as i got maby 10/30str less, but loads of +10crit/15sta while match all the sockets (did some math and compared other pally’s towards mine.

    The only place where stacking full str comes in handy is match the +8 and take jc to make a massive gain with str, only but only then u have above +50/100 gain of str, what is nice, but going for 10/30 is just a waste of some crit.

  38. Khor says:

    Hey Zethro, once you are hit capped, then yes, ideally you just gemming pure strength. That is going to be your largest DPS boost.

  39. Fabio says:

    can somebody help me out cause i have th feeling i need more crit

  40. Stee says:

    Hey man i was just wondering im a little under the hit cap and dont see myself getting any new gear with hit on it soon. I have a trinket(Mark of Supremacy)that increases my hit cap to just over 10% do you think i should use that or my current trinket(wispering fanged skull). Also im wondering should i gem for expertise as currently im sitting at 15 expertise when not using SoV and getting the +10 expertise rating from glyph. I’m gona leave a link to my armory hit it up and let me no what ya think thanks mate.

  41. Khor says:

    Hey Stee, the first question I would ask is, what is your hit rating without the trinket?

    Second, As Ret Paladins, we don’t ever want to gem for expertise. That will come with gear, so with the SoV glyph, you are probably doing pretty well.

    I’m actually commenting on my laptop as my daughter is watching Beauty and the Beast, so I’ll check your armory when she goes down for her nap 🙂

  42. Stee says:

    hey i just got 2 enchants and my hit is 7% atm

  43. Khor says:

    Okay, looking at your armory now and it shows your hit at 6%, so maybe it hasn’t calculated you recent adjustments yet that push it to 7%.

    I think you are pretty solid in terms of gear and what you have on. My suggestion would be to keep a sharp eye out for some +hit gear. Even if it is lvl 251 and you need to replace a 264, it might be worth it to cap your hit.

    But if you are 7% or more, you might be okay. Try a target dummy and see which trinket, +hit or WFS brings you more DPS.

  44. Stee says:

    yep will do thanks for the advice and for the speedy replys ^^

  45. Eeymiel - Dentarg says:

    imo Strength and haste gem is best for a yellow socket, since melee and seal of Corruption/Vengeance are the 2 highest dps parts, u’ll do more secure dps, instead of sometimes big dps

  46. Khor says:

    Interesting Eeymiel, I’ll have to look into that…

  47. Uniwolf04 says:

    Hi again,

    I did a quick scroll so I hope I’m not repeating someone else:

    I noticed on MaxDPS that they are plugging in “Fierce Ametrine” in a few slots – giving +10 Strength AND +10 Haste while your top pick for Orange is “Inscribed Flawless Ametrine” – giving +10 Strength AND +10 Crit.

    So is it a matter of Haste vs Crit and would it be better to balance out across a couple of gems or lean one way or the other?

    Thanks again.

  48. Khor says:

    Hey Uniwolf…tricky subject you are tackling. When you get 4 T10 and all ICC gear, haste becomes such a powerful stat that it starts rivaling crit on the priority list. That is why you are seeing the strength/haste gem popping up as a higher DPS gem.

    Personally, I stick with the strength/crit orange gems. While MaxDPS is a good starting point for looking at gear, Rawr takes more into account and is generally more accurate (though it is outdated and buggy at times). My set-up still has me gemming crit, though there may be instances where I might be gemmign for haste in the future.

  49. allyb says:

    Using a Nightmare tear takes the place of ANY color gem. This means it could be used with the Relentless Meta instead of a blue gem.

    Also, I would not suggest only gemming for strength. Once you have about 2k strength, mostly from gear, you should start gemming Str/Crit gems. For a ret pally, crit is very important. About 40% crit is ideal.

    Ret pallys NEED to be Expertise capped. If you’re below 26 exp, but a couple exp gems in your gear.

    As far as pallys gemming Attack Power…we just don’t. Every 1 strength is equal to 2 attack power. Strength also benefits other stats, such as dodge. So if you’re a ret pally you definitely don’t want to gem for AP.

    Gemming for haste…should not be a priority over gemming for str or crit. Most of the newer ret pally gear has haste on it and it is not as important of a stat as crit. If you have over 2k str and are at 40% crit, I suppose you could put a couple haste gems in your gear.

  50. Sindy says:

    Never gem for anything other than 20str, in some cases hit, and 10str 10 crit. NEVER gem for Haste, and NEVER gem for Expertise, the guy above doesn’t have a clue.

    Use relentless meta. Put 1 Nightmare Tear in a blue slot that will give you the most Str in the socket bonus (you want to try to get a socket bonus by using it if you can). 20str in all other slots unless it’s yellow and will give you 4+ Str for a socket bonus and you can get that by only adding 1 Yellow gem. In which case put a 10str 10crit gem in it. Hit is most important so you can gem for that if you need it to reach 263 hit. You never gem for anything other than hit str or hit/str. EVER. No exceptions.

Speak Your Mind