In the Steam Auction, every Steam item (card, booster pack, background and emoticon) has a gem value, which is awarded when the item is "recycled" (user clicks the Turn into Gems... button).

How is that gem value worked out? Is there some sort of biasness for rare items? Valve-made items?

I've noticed that all the sale emoticons/backgrounds are worth 100 gems each, along with items from Valve games^, free-to-play games and sales, while all other games only reach a maximum of 80.

^CS:GO somehow fits this rule, but Half-Life 2 doesn't.

  • Another thing that doesn't match up is the market 'Average sell value' doesn't seem to influence it either. My guess would be cards are based off rarity and how expensive the game itself is at full price possibly?
    – Xrylite
    Dec 15, 2014 at 19:43
  • 2
    Similar question: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/196219/…
    – user86571
    Dec 15, 2014 at 20:11
  • This is a duplicate of my earlier question (linked above by Ross Ridge).
    – Keavon
    Dec 15, 2014 at 22:45
  • @Keavon Not really, you didn't ask about cards.
    – Sentry
    Dec 15, 2014 at 23:33
  • 1
    @memescientist, I think they can't be bothered to answer it. So they close it in order to not need to answer it.
    – aytimothy
    Dec 16, 2014 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


There seems to be a "complicated" way to do this. WARNING: The following might differ for some games and versions. This is an estimate by this wikia.

Similarly, the gem value of a set's emoticons and backgrounds appears to be equal to the number of cards in the set * the gem value of normal cards / 2, rounded up to the nearest multiple of 20. The value of a foil is ten times (10x) the value of the normal card. This applies to all sets. The value of an emoticon is equal to the value of a background crafted from the same set.

Emoticons and backgrounds associated with Valve (Valve games and summer/winter sale trading cards) are always worth 100 gems. Free-to-play games (which drop cards based on how much one pays) generally have high-value items as well. In general, the more cards in a set, the lower the value of the items and cards themselves. The inverse is also true. Only trading cards, emoticons, and backgrounds can be turned into gems. The process is irreversible.

So to sum this up:

  • Only trading cards, emoticons, and backgrounds can be converted into gems

  • Emoticons and backgrounds that deals with Value will always be worth 100 gems.

  • The gem value of a emoticon/background is based on the number of the cards in its respective set times the gem value of normal cards then divided by two and finally rounded to the nearest multiple of 20.

  • The gem value of a foil card is 10x of its normal version

Formulas could be found in the wikia link above as well as more information. For cards:

Assuming that n = # cards in set, c = value of single card, g = value of emoticon/background, and b = gems to craft booster, any one of the four can be calculated if any two other values are known. This doesn't hold true for every game, but is accurate for the vast majority:

n = 6000/b
n = 2g/c
c = bg/3000
c = 2g/n
g = 3000c/b
g = n * c/2
b = 6000/n
b = g/3000c
  • +1 | But you only managed to explain the gem values of emoticons/backgrounds, and not the [normal] cards.
    – aytimothy
    Oct 4, 2015 at 16:51
  • See my edit @aytimothy Oct 4, 2015 at 16:54
  • Checks out. Accepting.
    – aytimothy
    Oct 4, 2015 at 17:02
$0.08 - 15 Gems
$0.09 - 15 Gems
$0.13 - 24 Gems

$0.10 - 100 Gems

$0.03 - 20
$0.07 - 100

I actually found a webpage where they had a conversation about this so, if you go here and read the back and forth comments, they explain really well why steam created the gem system and how it all pans out.

Or just go to Reddit and look up gem values if you don't like to click links.

  • 1
    That link appears to be broken. Feb 4, 2015 at 16:43
  • I remembered seeing 12-cent backgrounds worth 100 gems, and 12-cent emoticons worth 100 gems too.
    – aytimothy
    Feb 4, 2015 at 22:11

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