- Gems may be found while mining. There is roughly a 10% chance of receiving a gemstone per piece of extracted ore.
- With the acquisition of the Prowler's Profit ability, precious gems of all sorts and all qualities will appear in a large number of places, 100% of the time. The Prowler's Profit ability spawns gems of varying qualities in any container permanently, from only one gem to rarely up to 10 gems in boss chests and dragons.
- Giants will always carry gems, mostly sapphires and emeralds it seems.
- Dragons have a chance to carry gems. Legendary dragonsDG have the highest chance of dropping flawless diamonds.
- Burial urns will supply a lot of these gems, along with a small amount of . Found in Nordic ruins and various tombs and dungeons, urns are the most common replenishable supply of gems and small amount of .
- The corpses of draugr sometimes have them. Draugr that are static containers (I.e., the only possible interaction is to loot them) also have a chance to carry gems. With the addition of Dragonborn, stalhrim deposits contain draugr when mined out, and are a good source for both the valuable crafting material and gems.
- Sometimes bandit leaders will carry precious gems, very rarely of the flawless quality.
- Boss chests, miscellaneous chests, chests found in homes and other areas around Skyrim have a good chance to carry at least one gem, regardless of the NPC that owns or guards the chest.
- The chests at the top of the guardtowers near the Riften Stables always possess a random gem.
- On Solstheim there are a number of amethyst, emerald, ruby and sapphire geodes that produce their namesake gemstone.
- There is a flawless sapphire and a flawless amethyst in the Temple of Dibella in Markarth, inside the inner sanctum on a shelf. These gems will respawn after a week in-game.
- There is a flawless amethyst inside a hidden passage in Korvanjund. Upon entering the open area where you need to find the switch on the second floor (just after the Nordic puzzle door), look for a table on the second floor with a pedestal and a dagger next to two garnets. Taking or moving the dagger opens a secret passage through which is the amethyst next to a chest and a health potion.
- When you have collected the Jagged Crown in Korvanjund, there are two flawless diamonds, two emeralds, two flawless garnets, a flawless amethyst, flawless ruby and a flawless sapphire in bowls above the bookcases and in the rafters to the left of the throne. Stand facing the bookcase on to the left of the throne and use Unrelenting Force (or Voice of the Emperor if you are playing an Imperial) and the gems (along with a Honed Ancient Nord Sword of Cold and a spell tome for Conjure Flame Atronach) will fall from the roof. Make sure you save first in case you cannot find them after they fall. If you did not get these gems when you collected the crown, you can return to Korvanjund and they will still be there.
- Another flawless amethyst can be found in Dustman's Cairn during the quest "Proving Honor." There are two pedestals in the corridor after the Silver Hand attack. One has the amethyst next to a pile of coins.
- A flawless emerald can be found within the ruins of Valthume. It is located sitting on a plate which rests on a shelf in a room that can be accessed from the first room that Hevnoraak's spirit is seen.
- Amaund Motierre carries a sapphire, an emerald, and a diamond.
- There is a flawless diamond, three flawless garnets, a flawless ruby and a lockbox on a boat directly north of Reachwater Rock just southwest of Sky Haven Temple. Follow the map to the mine and follow the stream across from the cave downstream a bit and it will be on the right.
- The miscellaneous quest received at Merryfair Farm rewards randomly generated gemstones. The gems rewarded can be of the flawless quality if the player character's level is high enough.
- A flawless ruby can be found in the Emperor's bedchambers on board The Katariah.
- A ruby or flawless ruby can also be found in the throne room in South Shriekwind Bastion.
- In Mercer Frey's house, there is a bowl filled with one of each type of gem. Each gem has approximately a 50% chance to be flawless.
- In Anuriel's room in Mistveil Keep, there is a sapphire, ruby, and a lesser value gem. Grabbing these gems is considered a crime.
- Sapphire in Riften, usually found near the Bee and Barb, carries two sapphires that can be pickpocketed.
- A flawless diamond can be found in Kagrenzel, sitting atop the second archway from the exit to Stony Creek Cave. Jump or use Whirlwind Sprint to access it.
- A flawless diamond can be found in Skuldafn Temple in the room right before the end, along with a flawless amethyst and a flawless emerald underneath a linen wrap in a bowl on the bottom bookshelf.
- 2 flawless sapphires can always be found in the Ruins of Bthalft, at the end of the quest "Lost to the Ages." They are in the chest, near the Aetherium Forge.
- In Cidhna Mine. The Dragonborn must be arrested and the Hold Guards need to have confiscated at least 2000 in stolen goods.
- The Ebony Warrior carries one flawless gem of each type upon death. However, the player must be at least a level 80 in order to be faced against him.
- One diamond in a nook of the orichalcum ore vein underneath Froki's Shack in The Rift. The ore does not need to be mined to obtain the gem, it sits in an alcove of the vein and can be picked up.
Merchants throughout Skyrim also buy and sell gems; many of the merchants that buy and sell jewelry will also buy and sell gems. General goods merchants can also buy gems.
- Fralia Gray-Mane – Whiterun
- Madesi – Riften
- Niranye – Windhelm
- Kerah – Markarth
- Sorine Jurard – Fort Dawnguard DG
- Khajiit Caravans traders usually have several precious gems to sell.
- Talen-Jei employs the Dragonborn with locating three Flawless Amethysts for a wedding band.
- Madesi asks the Dragonborn to find two flawless sapphires for a special amulet he is crafting, along with a mammoth tusk and a single gold ore.
- Kesh from the Shrine to Peryite asks for a flawless ruby to commune with Peryite, as well as single deathbell, vampire dust and a Silver ingot.
- Precious Gems can be combined with silver ingot and gold ingot to produce jewelry. Regular gems are used for rings, but necklaces require 1 or 2 flawless gems of the corresponding type.
- With the Hearthfire add-on, 1 flawless amethyst is required in the creation of a Shrine of Akatosh, and 1 flawless sapphire is required in the creation of a Shrine of Kynareth.
- Aside from various quests and smithing, Gems are an invaluable source of . At high levels, a handful of gems can wipe out an NPC merchant's sources very quickly. Their minimal weight makes them indispensable as trading or buyback items.
- Some precious gems (rubies, sapphires, amethysts and emeralds, as well as their flawless versions) can be used with the Imbuing Chamber in White Ridge Sanctum to create spider scrolls, in conjunction with other ingredients. The flawless versions of the gems will double the number of Spider Scrolls created.
- Precious gemstones should not be confused with soul gems, which serve an entirely different purpose.
- Flawless gemstones appear slightly different from normal gemstones. Gemstones have a somewhat irregular surface, while flawless gemstones are symmetrical.
- Flawless diamonds have the highest value per weight unit in the entire game, thereby offering the most efficient way to gain , especially since they are fairly easy to come by with the Prowler's Profit ability. There is a value of 1,000 for 1 unit of Flawless Diamonds. This mantle has since been overtaken by the exquisite sapphire, included with Dragonborn, with a worth of 5,000 , while only weighing 0.2 pounds.