I am a player in a D&D 5e game with 4 other players and a Novice DM. We were 4th level characters at the time, hadn't been getting a lot of monetary reward for our dungeon crawling, and we've been beating up the undead for a side quest for a nice lich. We decided it's been long enough, so one of our Sorcerers cast Invisibility on our Way of the Shadow Monk, who then sneaked into a guard tower of a small town.

Looking around the big tower, the Monk found the armory, which doubled as a locker room of sorts, or maybe an evidence chamber. It had a whopping 20 locked chests, which contained in total 500 pounds of gems and a conveniently located Bag of Holding. Needless to say we looted them to hell and now we're stuck with all of these gems.

Now, according to our calculations using tools for older editions, the minimum value of this many gems was a bit over 4 million gp.

Is this right? Is there a tool or table or are there rules/guidelines for this? How much money are we packing right now?

The math we did used the information on this website. We do not know what quality or size or gp value the gems are themselves. Our calculations were absolute minimum, smallest size and lowest base value. They could all be diamonds or blood opals or polished jets or opals or whatever.

I'm looking for numbers here, in case I wasn't clear enough. I understand regular economy has rules and phenomena, but we can safely ignore those rules for now. Just assume they have a static value that we know, because that information is in the DMG treasure tables. You don't have to worry about how long it takes for us to fence off the gems, either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Either your novice DM has a twist in mind, or he has completely lost control of the game. Either way, asking us to predict what will happen next in your game is pretty hard to do. \$\endgroup\$
    – bwarner
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bwarner I'm just trying to find out what my party has to work with under some certain assumptions. If something else does happen with them because of Plot or DM fiat, that's probably another matter. Additionally, this could turn into just a thought exercise, so that we can try to figure this kind of stuff out in general. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:33

4 Answers 4


Somewhere between 250,000 GP and 125,000,000 GP. *

And it sells for full price.

Gemstones are small, lightweight, and easily secured compared to their same value in coins.
- DMG 133

The DMG does not give the weight of gems, unfortunately, but it does say that they are lightweight compared to coins, so for my calculations, I used the same weight as coins: fifty to the pound. This gives us a total of$$ 500~\mathrm{pounds}~{\times}~50\frac{\mathrm{gems}}{\mathrm{pound}}~=~25,000~\mathrm{gems}. $$

On the following page, there is a table to roll on for gems as treasure, and gives the value of each type. There's a lot of them, so they're listed at the bottom of the answer. What matters is they vary in price from 10 GP (e.g. Obsidian) to 5,000 GP (e.g. Ruby).

If your pile of gems is completely made out of Rubies, for example, you're looking at around$$ 25,000~\mathrm{gems}~{\times}~5,000\frac{\mathrm{GP}}{\mathrm{gem}}~=~125,000,000~\mathrm{GP}. $$

On the other hand, if your pile of gems is completely made out of Obsidian, you're only looking at$$ 25,000~\mathrm{gems}~{\times}~10\frac{\mathrm{GP}}{\mathrm{gem}}~=~250,000~\mathrm{GP}. $$

Don't sell it all at once, though. It's not that supply and demand is a problem, but that money is heavy, by comparison. Gem prices are static, and they are at least as efficient as Platinum by weight. It's only worth selling them when you need the money.

* Your DM might decide that you need to perform an Intelligence check to know this in character, though.

- 10 GP gems: Azurite, Banded agate, Blue quartz, Eye agate, Hematite, Lapis lazuli, Malachite, Moss agate, Obsidian, Rhodochrosite, Tiger eye and Turquoise.
- 50 GP gems: Bloodstone, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Chrysoprase, Citrine, Jasper, Moonstone, Onyx, Quartz, Sardonyx, Star Rose Quartz and Zircon.
- 100 GP gems: Amber, Amethyst, Chrysoberyl, Coral, Garnet, Jade, Jet, Pearl, Spinel and Tourmaline.
- 500 GP gems: Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Black pearl, Blue spinel, Peridot and Topaz.
- 1,000 GP gems: Black opal, Blue sapphire, Emerald, Fire opal, Opal, Star ruby, Star sapphire and Yellow sapphire.
- 5,000 GP gems: Black sapphire, Diamond, Jacinth, Ruby.


There is no way to know how much they're worth, since value-per-weight depends on not only what kind of gems they are, but also on how much they're worth in the local economy. (If a small town had 500 lbs. of gems sitting around, there's a good chance they're not worth a lot, are fake, or are otherwise not worth as much as you might think. No town can afford to have multiple millions of gold-piece value just sitting around doing no useful work. Of course, if they weren't owned by the town, but by some more powerful entity just borrowing their facilities… well, then you have 500 lbs. of Plot Device; enjoy!)

The way to find out is to find an appraiser in-game and pay them for their price-appraisal services. Make sure you find one that either won't recognise their provenance, or who specialises in appraising black-market goods.

In other words, what one DM's answer is (such as the DM that invented the numbers in the website you checked) is not guaranteed to be the same as another DM's answer.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Im not sure if this is immediately important to the question itself, but these guards were loaded and dangerous for just guarding a small town. There were 30 of them, and they were patrolling on a very tight and regular schedule. They also had 20 heavily armored guard dogs and 20 trained eagles guarding just the tower, along with the guards inside. It's really intense. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Feb 8, 2016 at 7:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like you just stole the annual tribute on its way to the king? Good luck with that :-P \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2016 at 9:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ The gems weren't doing nothing. Clearly they were meant to be used as dragon food. Now you have a hangry dragon tracking you down with its supernatural scent detection of gems (even if they are in the bag). Joking aside, I like the 500 lbs of Plot Device part. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Feb 2, 2018 at 15:48

Depending upon the gems... a "typical gem" is 1 coin-weight. Or about 1/50th pound. Or about 45 caret-weight. (5E doesn't have a specific reference for this, but older editions do.)

The site linked to uses 18th-20th century relationships, but uses the same category values as the DMG... kind of. DMG 134 gives specific types for the default Forgotten Realms values. Which are quite unlike historical.

As with coinage, the typical D&D value isn't historical.

So, assume 50 gems to the pound, and you can get it down to 500 lbs x 50 gems x 10 gp = 250,000 gp worth.

Given a more table-dervied value...

1/2 10 gp     (  5.0 )
1/4 50 gp     ( 12.5 )
1/8 100 gp    ( 12.5 )
1/16 500 gp   ( 31.25)
1/24 1000 gp  ( 41.67)
1/48 5000 gp  (104.16)

Gives an average value of 207.08 gp per gem. And an value for that bag of of 5,177,083 or so. Yeah, 5 million gp.

The good news... If you flood the market, the value drops. Up to about 100 gems, the value isn't going to drop too much... but dump a thousand, and you're lucky to get half-value. Trickle them out at 10 a week, and live a life of luxury.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain the table a little bit more? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2016 at 17:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ So the OP obtained the equivalent of 50 tonnes of gold? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2016 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ How are you obtaining the average number of gems per value? \$\endgroup\$
    – Smurfton
    Feb 9, 2016 at 2:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CodesInChaos Oh, no. That's 50 tonnes of gold on average, and up to 1,250 tonnes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Smurfton
    Feb 9, 2016 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Where are you getting the first column from? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 9, 2016 at 16:06

Price is a function of demand and supply. If you have 500 pounds of gems you might have a enormous surplus of supply, and the price should therefore decline. How much do they decline? That depends on a lot of factors. Do the villagers realise that it is the stolen tribute on it's way to the king as frodoskywalker suggest? If so do they fear the King will just take it back, and therefore they will not pay anything for it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Price is a function of demand and supply." — Well, it is in real world economics. D&D is rather non-simulationist when it comes to money though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Quentin
    Feb 8, 2016 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thats a fair point. In my games the price do change based on availability (swords are cheapest in a mining town), a pc persuade roll, dm mood, randomness and other such factors. I figured if the dm in this case need to prevent trouble in his game world from letting the pc's have 4 mill gp he could use demand and supply as a decent explanation \$\endgroup\$
    – Marius
    Feb 8, 2016 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the 4th level characters to stumble over 4 million GP the DM either goofed up, or this is a rich opportunity for RP and getting a pile of loot that Someone is very interested in. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 8, 2016 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast We do already know better than to spend it all at once, because of the reasons Marius and aramis's answers explain. We are also being careful because the kingdom we stole it from has a magical monolith that brings dragons under their control, which we intend to destroy. We saw 3 of their dragons, and they are big red dragons, probably adult. We're terrified of the prospect of 3 adult red dragons coming after our hoard! \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Feb 8, 2016 at 17:50

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