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The Elder Scrolls series has been streamlining itself since Morrowind. But while Morrowind didn’t keep all the intricate RPG elements from Daggerfall, it’s still very much a deep RPG. That trend took a notable downward turn with the release of Oblivion.
Many of the RPG elements from Morrowind were stripped down or removed. Skills like Axe, Enchant, Medium Armor, and Spear disappeared. I’ll never forget my utter confusion when I saw Axes were now under the Blunt Weapon category.
Another victim of Oblivion‘s streamlining was precious gems. In Morrowind, they were valuable as alchemical ingredients and boasted some of the most potent effects. Starting in Oblivion, they became nothing more than your average valuable commodity whose only use is to sell for gold.
Skyrim continued this trend, with most of the game’s precious gems being disappointingly limited in use. There are a few exceptions, though, most notably the Stones of Barenziah.
Named after the fabled Queen of Morrowind and mistress of Tiber Septim, the Stones of Barenziah are strange gems, and their significance has faded from the annuls of history. Most people see them as nothing more than unique oddities and shiny paperweights.
But surely, someone out there knows what they’re really worth. If you could find this person and take the Stones of Barenziah to them, perhaps you’ll discover the treasure of a lifetime.
But as you might expect from gems of a former Queen, finding all of them is no easy feat. Some Stones of Barenziah are simple house heists, while others require a bit of spelunking and a lot of killing. These aren’t your average gems. It may take some time before you’re ready to grab them all.
As resident Elder Scrolls’ precious gem expert, I’ll lead the way and show you how to get it done.
There are 24 Stones of Barenziah in Skyrim. Initially, they will appear in the game world as Unusual Gems. After claiming your first Unusual Gem, the quest No Stone Unturned will begin. The game will direct you to Vex, a member of the Thieves Guild in Riften, to learn more about the Unusual Gem.
Upon arrival in Riften, hook up with Brynjolf in the marketplace. After a bit of pickpocketing and crime framing, you’ll receive an invitation to join the Thieves Guild if you can make it to their hideout in the Ratways alive.
After successfully making it to the Thieves Guild hideout, The Ragged Flagon, link up with Vex, Master Lockpick trainer and appraiser/fence. Ask her about the strange gem, and she’ll tell you you’ve got your hands on a Stone of Barenziah. Long ago, a thief pried them off Barenziah’s crown to cover his tracks in another crime.
The 24 Stones of Barenziah’s crown have since scattered across Skyrim. While of moderate value on their own, their true worth comes from the set being complete once again. If you can do that, speak with Vex again.
Let’s track them down.
Stone of Barenziah Locations
Whiterun: Dragonsreach Jarl’s Quarters
Go up to Dragonsreach and up the stairs on the right past the Jarl’s throne. Head inside the Dragonreach Jarl’s Quarters, go up two sets of stairs, through the door, and into the bedroom on the left. The Stone of Barenziah will be on the nightstand.
For most Stones of Barenziah in residential areas, taking them counts as stealing, so watch out. A guard is usually in this chamber but not in the bedroom.
Whiterun: Jorrvaskr Living Quarters: Kodlak Whitemane’s Room
Head inside Jorrvaskr and down the stairs on the right side of the room to enter the Living Quarters. Turn right and go all the way down the hall. The room at the end is Kodlak’s. Open the door to your right and pick up the Stone of Barenziah off the cupboard.
If you’re the Harbinger of the Companions, you can take this Stone of Barenziah freely. If not, it counts as stealing.
Whiterun: Hall of the Dead: Whiterun Catacombs
Head inside the Hall of the Dead near the Temple of Kynareth. Go straight through the door ahead to enter the Whiterun Catacombs.
Take a left, then head right down the ramp. A Stone of Barenziah will be sitting next to a skeleton of your left. You’ll likely have to kill a few skeletons while down here. But these are weak enemies, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Here’s your first challenging acquisition. Fellglow Keep is a disgraced mages’ hideout northeast of Whiterun. You’ll come here as part of the College of Winterhold’s main questline.
Outside will be several mages and possibly an atronach. After disposing of them, head inside the main entrance. Go up the stairs and into the room on the right. A mage is usually in here by the workbench. The Stone of Barenziah is on a shelf to the left of the Alchemy Table.
Enjoy incursions like this while you can. You can avoid most of the enemies in Fellglow Keep, but without invisibility and high sneak, most other hostile locations include a lot of fighting.
Far east of Riften, Black-Briar mercenaries guard the Lodge. These guys and gals will always be hostile toward you. Deal with the two outside, then enter the Lodge. The front door has a Master lock. Once inside, take a left, then a right, and head upstairs into the master bedroom. The Stone of Barenziah is sitting on the bedside table.
A word of warning on the Black-Briar Lodge: Experience may vary with when and where your average Bethesda game crashes. For me, the entrance of Black-Briar Lodge is where my Skyrim likes to crash. A lot. Hopefully, you have better luck.
Mistveil Keep: Jarl’s Chambers
Another Jarl’s Stone of Barenziah needs a new owner. Head to Mistveil Keep, in the far north end of Riften. Go past the Jarl’s throne and up the stairs into the Jarl’s Chambers. Go up the stairs, through the door, and look to your left. The Stone of Barenziah is on the table by the bed.
College of Winterhold: Arch-Mage’s Quarters
Head to Winterhold and join the College if you haven’t already. Once you’re a member, you’ll need to complete the Under Saarthal quest. Upon doing so, Tolfdir will tell you to leave Saarthal and speak with the Arch-Mage back at the College.
The Arch-Mage’s Quarters are to your immediate left after entering the Hall of Elements. The Stone of Barenziah is on a shelf on the left side of the chamber next to two skulls. Look for a mounted wolf head above the bookcase. If you’re the Arch-Mage, you can take this Stone of Barenziah freely. If not, it’s stealing.
House of Clan Shatter-Shield
Travel to Windhelm and head for the House of Clan Shatter-Shield in the northwest part of the city. If no one is currently inside, the front door will have a Master lock. Once inside, go upstairs and into the northern bedroom. The Stone of Barenziah will bed on a bookshelf on the right side of the room.
One of the two Shatter-Shield parents may be sitting in the chair on the left side of the room, eating a snack. So long as you have a decent Sneak level, you should be able to swipe the Stone of Barenziah with no issues.
Palace of Kings: Wuunferth the Unliving’s Quarters
Still, in Windhelm, go to the Palace of Kings in the far north part of the city. Once inside, take the first door on your left to go upstairs. Take another left, then go to the chamber down the hall. These are Wuunferth the Unliving’s quarters. The Stone of Barenziah is on a table on the right side of the room.
Both Wuunferth and a Windhelm guard may be in here. To play it safe, wait for Wuunferth to go downstairs to end before swiping your reward.
Head for Markarth and into the Treasury House in the northeast part of the stone city. Those who have completed Forsworn Conspiracy will already know this place well. Go left past the receptionist, and through the door and into the master bedroom. The Stone of Barenziah is on the table on the right side of the bed.
If you’ve yet to complete Forsworn Conspiracy, you may need to pick the lock to the master bedroom. That can be tricky since Thornar Silver-Blood is usually in the same room as you.
Markarth-Understone Keep: Dwemer Museum
Head into the Understone Keep and take the right staircase up to the Dwemer Museum. If you’ve yet to complete Nimhe, the Poisoned One, or The Book of Love, you will need to break in here. Leave your companion at the door if you have one, and pick the Adept lock.
Once inside, you’ll notice several guards patrolling. The guard on the left side of the chamber near the gate is the biggest problem, as the Stone of Barenziah is inside that gated room. If doing this illegally, high Sneak and Invisibility potions help a lot here. Remember that an active action, while invisible, will render you visible again.
Pick the Apprentice gate lock if needed, then swipe the Stone of Barenziah from the table on the right.
Solitude: Blue Palace: Jarl’s Quarters
Another Jarl has volunteered their Stone of Barenziah for new ownership. They just forgot they did it.
Head for the Blue Palace in the far north end of Solitude. Take the left staircase up the second floor, then continue heading left, down the hallway, and into the bedroom of the Jarl. The Stone of Barenziah is on the table next to the bed.
Solitude: Proudspire Manor
The following Stone of Barenziah requires that you first become Thane of Solitude. Once you’ve done this, purchase Proudspire Manor for 25,000 gold. It’s one of the best houses in Skyrim, so it’s a worthy purchase. Once Proudspire Manor is yours, head inside to the top floor and into your master bedroom. The Stone of Barenziah is atop a wardrobe directly behind the door.
Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary
To obtain this Stone of Barenziah, you must complete Innocence Lost by fulfilling a contract for Aventus Aretino. Once complete, sleep and Astrid of the Dark Brotherhood will whisk you away to the Abandoned Shack. Either obey Astrid’s commands or declare war on the Dark Brotherhood by killing her. Either way, continue down the quest line and head for the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary west of Falkreath.
Once inside, go down the path and into Astrid’s bedroom on your left. The Stone of Barenziah is sitting on a table.
Reeking Cave is a little annoying since it’s an unmarked location northwest of the Thalmor Embassy. If you can’t be bothered with the hassle, you will find yourself here during Diplomatic Immunity from the main quest line. Consult the above screenshot to see where exactly on the map Reeking Cave is.
Once you’ve found it, ignore or kill the frost troll inside and head for an alcove on the left side of the chamber. The Stone of Barenziah is sitting next to a dead conjurer.
The Dainty Sload is a ship docked northeast of Solitude. There will be a few hostile corsairs outside and some more inside. Once inside, head down the stairs into the storage area, then up the stairs at the other end to get to the First Mate’s quarters. Kill the First Mate, then take the Stone of Barenziah off the table.
Hob’s Fall Cave
Hob’s Fall Cave is a necromancer cover west of Winterhold. Forward is the only way you can go here, so progress along the snowy path, dealing with necromancers and skeletons as you go. Remember that these are necromancers, and they may revive their fallen allies.
Eventually, you’ll find a sacrificial ritual chamber with several impaled bodies on spikes. Right before this chamber, take the path on your left. At the end will be some makeshift living quarters and a lone necromancer working at an alchemy lab. Kill the mage, then take the Stone of Barenziah from the cupboard.
Yngvild: Yngvild Throne Room
East of Dawnstar and just northwest of Hob’s Fall Cave is Yngvild, another Stone of Barenziah location. Inside is a necromancer named Arondil who likes kidnapping and experimenting on people.
Make your way through Yngvild, killing the Yingvild ghosts along the way. Go through the iron door at the end of Yngvild to enter the Yngvild Throne Room. Kill Arondil, then enter his bedroom behind the throne. The Stone of Barenziah will be sitting on a table to the left.
Ansilvund: Ansilvund Burial Chambers
Ansilvund is a Nordic tomb north of Riften. A woman off her rocker is inside and busy reviving every Draugr she can find. If you come here at a high level, there will be many Deathlords and Death Overlords between you and the Stone of Barenziah. There are also many traps here.
You may want to come here sooner rather than later to give yourself an easier time. I prefer coming at a later level since high-level Draugr carry valuable ebony weapons.
Hack and slash through Ansilvund until you reach a puzzle chamber. The solution to the puzzle is Eagle, Snake, Whale, and Snake. Activate the lever, then spin around and head through the newly unlocked gate. Watch out for the floor trap on the bridge. Head down the ramp and into the Ansilvund Burial Chambers.
Make your way through a few trap-infested corridors until you reach a large burial chamber. Kill the Draugr on the ground floor, then pick up the key on a pedestal on the western side of the room. Doing so will activate another trap and spawn more Draugr.
Head up to the upper platform and use the key to unlock all the gates. Follow the path until you reach a wooden door to Ansilvund’s final chamber. Deal with the mad lass herself, then take the Stone of Barenziah from the table behind the altar.
Stony Creek Cave
North of Ansilvund is your next target: Stony Creek Cave. Dragons love spawning here, so be on the lookout. Head inside the cave and down the watery path until you reach an intersection. Take a right, killing a few bandits along the way, then take another right. Watch out for the Morningstar tripwire trap.
You’ll find yourself in the quarters of the bandit mage/boss. Kill them, then take the Stone of Barenziah off the table next to the alchemy lab.
Rannveig’s Fast is a Nordic tomb in the mountains northeast of Rorikstead. It’s filled with the enslaved ghosts of unfortunate adventurers who apologize for their actions but try to kill you regardless. Clear your way through Rannveig’s Fast until you reach a Word Wall with a chest in front of it.
In front of the chest is a trapdoor. Intentionally allow yourself to fall down the trap hole and into Rannveig’s prison section.
A necromancer named Sild the Warlock will be down here. He will engage in your typical villain monologue shenanigans. Take the time to swipe his Stone of Barenziah off his table with the alchemy lab, then kill Slid for his key. Use the key to unlock a shortcut leading out of Rannveig’s Fast.
Dead Crone Rock
If you look up Dead Crone Rock’s location on a map and try a direct approach, you’ll find yourself lost very quickly. Dead Crone Rock is in the mountains southwest of Markarth, but to get there, you’ll need to go through Hag Rock Redoubt. The Orc stronghold Dushnikh Yal is a good starting point.
From Dushnikh Yal’s entrance, take a winding left up the path, then go right into the mountains. Continue northwest until you see a tower guarded by a Forsworn. Kill the sentry, then make your way up the tower and into Hag Rock Redoubt. There will be quite a few Forsworn here, so coming as a low-level is inadvisable.
Make your way up the steps of Hag Rock Redoubt, but do not go inside the iron door on the second level. Instead, continue to the top level of Hag Rock Redoubt until you see a tower on the northwest end. This tower is Dead Crone Rock.
Once inside, go up the spiral staircase. Take a right and head through the dining room and down the corridor. Keep going until you enter a room with a lever. Pull this lever to release the gate in the room with the staircase. Head through the now-open path and up the stairs to exit Dead Crone Rock.
Once outside, the set of stairs up. A hagraven boss will be standing around an altar in front of a Word Wall. Kill her, then take the Stone of Barenziah from the altar.
Sunderstone Gorge is a necromancer hideout northwest of Falkreath. There will be a lone necromancer sentry standing guard outside. Kill them, then head into the cave.
There are many traps inside Sunderstone Gorge, especially oil slicks. Many mages here prefer fire magic and take advantage of the traps they’ve set. You can find yourself extra crispy quite easily here. There will also be a few skeletons here and there.
Make your way through the first floor of the cave and head up the winding stairway at the end of the cavern. At the top of the upper platform, walk a short way short and go through a wooden door on the right. You’ll find yourself in an area with jail cells, a bed, and an alchemy lab. Kill the mage inside, then head through the passageway at the north end of the chamber.
The passageway leads to an iron door that opens up into a chamber with a Word Wall. Inside is a Word of Power for the Fire Breath Shout, one of the best Shouts in the game. I suppose it makes sense for a cave filled with fire mages to worship a Word Wall dedicated to Fire Breath.
Kill the two mages inside this chamber, but be careful as they pack a punch. Once they’re dead, claim the Stone of Barenziah off the altar in front of the World Wall.
Pinewatch: Pinewatch Bandit’s Sanctuary
The benign-looking Pinewatch is the next stop on our quest for all 24 Stones of Barenziah. Pick the lock, then head inside the farmhouse.
Unless you currently have the Silver Lining quest active, a lone bandit inside will be hostile to you. Kill the bandit, then head downstairs. Inspect the bookcase in the basement closely, and you’ll notice air coming from the bottom. Push the button on the wall on the right side of the bookcase to reveal a secret passageway.
Head down the passageway and into a secret Nordic ruin. The resident bandits are using this place as a hideout. Cross the bridge, killing bandits as you go. When you reach the end of the platform, take a left instead of continuing forward. Make your way through this next chamber toward the end until you see a wooden door leading into Pinewatch Bandit’s Sanctuary.
Once inside, go up the ramp and through a passageway on your left. Take another left in this next chamber, head up the stairs, and through a wooden door. You’ll be in a room with a lone bandit and three sarcophagi. Kill the bandit, then pick the door on your right. Inside this room will be a Stone of Barenziah on the bookshelf.
Once you’ve collected all 24 Stones of Barenziah, return to Vex in the Thieves Guild to learn how to restore the Crown of Barenziah!
Question: Is it worth collecting all Stones of Barenziah immediately?
Answer: I would say no. Without spoiling the last leg of No Stone Unturned, I’ll say this: The reward for this quest is most useful for lower-level players. But since obtaining many of these Stones of Barenziah involves going through pretty hefty hostile territory, completing No Stone Unturned as a low-level is unlikely.
Question: Can you sell the Unusual Gems/Stones of Barenziah?
Answer: No. The gems are quest items, and you cannot sell them to merchants.
Question: Can I complete No Stone Unturned without joining the Thieves Guild?
Answer: No. You can collect every Unusual Gem without being a member, but you cannot complete the quest unless you work for the Thieves Guild.
All Stones Of Barenziah Locations: Conclusion
No Stone Unturned/the hunt for all the Stones of Barenziah is a decent way of going on a combat tour across Skyrim (For the most part). But the Stones of Barenziah and their companion quest represent a recurring problem I find in Bethesda’s game design: More effort, fewer rewards.
The final reward of the No Stones Unturned quest is a little underwhelming. Heck, I’d argue that the Words of Power you find along the way have more long-term value/use than the final reward itself. Bethesda keeps doing this with their games, and it gets annoying (I’m looking at you, Zhu-Rong v418 Chinese pistol).
Ironically enough, if precious gems in Skyrim regained their utility as alchemy ingredients like in Morrowind, the Stones of Barenziah would be worth hunting down every playthrough. But as it stands, the hunt for the Stones of Barenziah is a one-time thing for me.
The Queen of Morrowind deserved better Bethesda. But I’ll take what we can get.