Sockets can be located on every piece of armor; however, each expansion has a different set of armor pieces that can have sockets.
Depending on the source, from World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor onwards, certain items that don't usually have sockets have a chance to drop with a socket.
Placing gems in sockets
Gems can be added to sockets in the "Item Socketing" window, which can be opened by holding shift and right-clicking on a socketed item. The gems are then dragged into the slots, and the "Socket Gems" button is pressed to apply the gems.
You may replace currently socketed gems by placing a new gem in the same socket, but doing so will destroy the old gem (much like overwriting enchants). Currently, the only way to remove a socketed gem is by using the Jewelhammer’s Focus. It can only be used by jewel crafters with maximum skill in either Zandalar or Kul'Tiran jewel crafting. In addition, your level must be level 50 or lower; Usually, this will be accomplished by entering any timewalking dungeon.
Sockets are separated into the following types:
- Prismatic Sockets -
- Cogwheel Sockets -
- Meta Sockets -
- Sha-Touched Sockets -
- Domination Sockets -
- Punchcard Sockets -
Prismatic (or uncolored) sockets are the default socket found in any item with gem sockets. They can also be added to an item by blacksmithing skills (or items created with blacksmithing such as the ). Any gem (except meta gems) may be placed in them.
Items that have a Sha-Touched socket can have one prismatic socket added to them by using .
Cogwheel sockets are "engineering-only" sockets first introduced in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Any class is capable of adding cogwheels to these sockets as long as they have the engineering skill to do so. Currently, the only items that have cogwheels are the epic helms crafted by engineers with 75 skill points in Cataclysm or Pandaria engineering, and the Ghost Iron Dragonling.
The is unique when it comes to cogwheel sockets. First, unlike the epic helms, it does not require an engineering skill to equip. Second, it does not require engineering to insert and use Pandaria cogwheel sockets. This means non-engineers can use the Ghost Iron Dragonling with cogwheel gems.
Mists of Pandaria cogwheels can be made by Pandaria engineers.
- Main article: Meta gem
Meta sockets are only found on high-level head gear from The Burning Crusade to Mists of Pandaria (currently only in particular varieties of head items). Meta sockets only accept meta gems, and meta gems may only be placed in meta sockets.
Prior to patch 7.0.3, a meta gem introduced before Mists of Pandaria would be inactive unless certain requirements were not met, such as equipped items being socketed with a certain number and color of other gems.
- Main article: Sha-Touched
Sha-Touched sockets are only found on weapons from Grand Empress Shek'zeer in Heart of Fear and Tsulong, Lei Shi and Sha of Fear in Terrace of Endless Spring. Sha-Touched sockets only accept Sha-Touched gems.
Domination sockets were introduced in patch 9.1 from items dropped in the Sanctum of Domination. They can only be filled with Shards of Domination, which also drop from the raid. Sylvanas Windrunner on any difficulty will always drop a Shard of Domination.
Each armor type has a different set of pieces that have domination sockets on them. There will always be a domination socket on any of these pieces from the Sanctum of Domination.
Cloth: Head, Shoulder, Chest, Wrist, Waist.
Leather: Head, Shoulder, Chest, Hands, Feet.
Mail: Head, Shoulder, Chest, Waist, Feet.
Plate: Head, Shoulder, Chest, Wrist, Hands
Punchcard Sockets are only available on the trinket . This trinket earned from the quest in Mechagon. It has slots for specific punchcard "gems," and has three punchcard slots colored red, yellow, and, blue. Only the punchcard with the matching color can be placed in the socket. Punchcards have a variety of effects.
Punchcards drop from bosses in Operation: Mechagon, as well as from rare mobs in Mechagon.
Prior to patch 7.0.3, the majority of sockets found on equipment were Red, Yellow, and Blue sockets. While any gem could be put in any of these socket types, the item socket bonus would only be activated if all of the sockets were filled with the matching gem color.
With the exception of meta gems, all gems matched one or more of these colors.
- Primary-color gems — red, yellow, and blue — would only match into the specific sockets for their color.
- Secondary-color gems — green, orange, and purple — would match into either of the two slots that correspond to their color. (For example, an orange gem would match a red or yellow slot for the bonus.)
- Prismatic gems would match any of the three socket colors.
Sockets were introduced in The Burning Crusade and modeled after a similar concept using gems in Diablo II, though the method of replacing them is different. The rune word system in the Diablo II expansion Lord of Destruction, which added additional bonuses if a particular set of runes was inserted in a particular order, has not been replicated in WoW — special combinations of gems do not confer any bonuses except the item's pre-defined socket bonus, unless using a meta gem.
As of patch 3.0.2, Blacksmiths with skill level 400+ are able to permanently place an additional socket on their bracer and glove, making the socketed item soulbound. Blacksmiths were originally given the ability to socket one-handed weapons, but this appears to not have been implemented in a patch release (although it is referenced in the game files).
A blacksmith with skill level 425+ can make an , which can be used by anyone (even sold via the Auction House) to add a prismatic socket to a belt, making the belt soulbound.
- Patch 7.0.3 (2016-07-19): All colored sockets changed into prismatic sockets.
- Patch 2.0.1 (2006-12-05): Added.