Excavator Vs Gemologist Stardew Valley: Which Should You Take?

The choice of excavator vs gemologist is an interesting one, and the first time someone asked me about it I was confused because I didn’t remember ever seeing those options when I maxed out my mining skill in Stardew Valley. That’s because the two player bonus options when you max out a skill in Stardew Valley are different depending on which choice you made at level 5.

The Stardew excavator vs gemologist decision only comes up if you picked Geologist over Miner at level 5. If you went with Miner (which admittedly, I usually do) then you are choosing between the Blacksmith and Prospector upgrades at level 10 instead. If you went with geologist to get more gems in the early game, then you will need to make a decision.

Generally speaking, the majority of Stardew players believe that excavator is a much better choice then gemologist at level 10 mining. Finding double geodes allows you to fill out the museum, find rare gems that can go to a Crystalarium for repeat creation, and use them as currency for rare items with the desert merchant.

This makes the Excavator perk far more versatile and valuable. While the 30% more gold from gems that gemologist brings is nice, gems aren’t all that valuable, especially compared to artisan goods, gold-star & purple-star crops, and other money-making options.

Desert merchant Stardew Valley
I can think of some immediate reasons why you might want more omni geodes.

Argument for Excavator Perk Stardew Valley

The arguments for taking the excavator perk instead of gemologist come down to a few main points that come up consistently as making this perk better than gemologist, and for the most part I agree. If I went this branch in the mining perks, I would choose excavator at level 10.

Why pick the excavator perk in Stardew mining level 10?

  • Omni geodes provide minerals you need to complete the museum’s collection
  • Omni geodes are necessary currency for a couple of rare items from the Desert Merchant including the magic cowboy hat
  • Omni geodes can be traded to the desert merchant for useful items like the Artifact Trove and Desert Warp Totem
  • Potential for finding more of the rare and always valuable prismatic shards
  • You can get extremely valuable gems to load up sheds full of Crystalariums

These are all excellent reasons for making the conventional choice of picking the excavator perk over the gemologist perk, and all the extra minerals and gems gained from the omni geodes make them a great get even towards the late game where min-maxing for every spare bit of currency just isn’t a concern.

Desert Merchant Stardew
Special hats require all kinds of Omni Geodes to purchase.

Argument for Gemologist Perk Stardew Valley

There are some arguments for considering taking the gemologist perk. This is a perk focusing on getting more money out of what you find in the mines, or produce via Crystalariums. 30% more isn’t a small amount, especially if you can build up a large array of Diamonds, Star Shards, Neptunite, or Helvite – minerals that are worth a lot more than average, and have them in a building full of Crystalariums replicating over and over again.

The main argument for taking gemologist are:

  • You have sheds full of Crystalariums, so why not get 30% more value from all of them?
  • You don’t care about the rare hat or furniture from the Desert Merchant
  • The museum is completely filled to completion so you don’t need any more artifacts or minerals that omni geodes drop
  • At end-game gemologist is generally worth more from a pure income standpoint, especially if you’re still taking omni geodes to Clint and paying for them as opposed to using up time with the geode crusher

This is a simple upgrade in that is effective in bringing in the income, so from a pure bottom line perspective this can become extremely valuable as a perk but it also requires two things:

  • Taking the time and resources to produce a huge number of Crystalariums
  • Running them often enough to get all the high-value gems that can then be replicated

When you take all the time effort to get this up and running, is that 30% really worth it? Especially when even with the gemologist perk artisan goods from animals are worth so much more? As is most wine?

That’s where the big questions come in.

Which Level 10 Stardew Perk Is Better?

This can vary based on player preference. If you’re playing a fully optimized game to optimize for total income, then you do want to go with gemologist because that 30% when supported does scale especially once the Omni Geode needs are fulfilled. On the other hand if you don’t want to bother with sheds full of Crystalariums, especially when those sheds can be filled with kegs, then Excavator just makes more sense.

There’s a reason why the majority of players going this route take the Excavator perk.

Should You Take Either?

I’m of the opinion that going the other route at level 5 makes more sense, even though there are arguments to be made that Excavator is going to be more valuable than either of the level 10 upgrades that come from the other route, however most Stardew players take Miner versus Geologist which means that this question becomes null as they must choose between blacksmith and Prospector (which is an easy one-line answer: pick Blacksmith).

However, if you want to go Geologist early instead of Miner, then overall most players will be better served with Excavator over Gemologist.

In Conclusion

While I like this choice more than some of the others on the Skill Tree as it does make me at least contemplate taking the other one, the excavator perk is considered by the majority of players to be superior to gemologist, although the true min-max type of player optimizing every bit of their day will want to give the gemologist perk a good hard look.

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