Saronite Ore is cheap and plentiful. Prospecting it with a jewelcrafter used to be extremely profitable back before the introduction of the disenchant option in dungeons, and the price of Infinite Dust was floored. It was so popular that we had our own name for it: The Saronite Shuffle.
Well, it's back! It's no longer profitable to use it for making enchanting mats, however it sure is profitable overall!
There are a few keys to making the Saronite Shuffle work for you. Firstly, these days, you need access to an alchemist, ideally with Transmute Mastery. Mostly for your Transmute: Skyflare Diamond and Transmute: Earthsiege Diamond. Epic gem transmutation is limited to one every 20 hours, and shouldn't really be considered in your final profitability.
What to do with the greens?Prospecting saronite will give you a lot of green quality gems. These are used for a variety of things. Meta gem transmutes, crafting greens for disenchant or vendor, and flat out cutting and vendoring. Here's an awesome visual guide, put together by Zamboni on the JMTC forums.
The first thing to note is that if, at any time, selling a green gem on the auction house would be worth more than whatever this diagram says to do, sell it on the AH. Most of these green gems are in high demand for a variety of reasons (like the JC dailies), and if you can save yourself some work and make extra profit by listing your raw gems on the AH, go for it.
You can see here that for all the green gems you will get, there's something you can do with them to make a little profit. If you add it all up together, it's considerably profitable. Low 70s green armor (like Sun Rock Rings) vendor for more than they tend to be worth after disenchanting, so aside from the initial prospecting, a lot of the steps you'll be taking can be done while afk.
You should prioritize your work based on profitability. Look through the AH and list any of these gems for sale if they're over what you'd make by processing them. Then look at the uncut meta gems, as do the two most popular raiding cuts (Chaotic Skyflare and Relentless Earthsiege). Transmute and cut the metas, and then decide whether you have the time to cut or craft the rest for vendor or disenchant. Generally, the price of dust has to be over 1.25g for disenchanting to be profitable. For most servers, that means vendoring will be the best.
What to do with the blues?
The blue quality gems you get are going to be the other side of your profits. You have a few choices: you can transmute one per day per alchemist (if you have an alchemist), and you can cut and vendor or cut and auction.
There's a vibrant and thriving market for blue quality gems. Any non-raiders who have temporary gear but just need to throw a cheap gem into some gear will buy these. Arguably, there are more of these casual people than serious end gamers. If you haven't already, invest a few JC dailies into learning some of the more popular cuts. Start with a red one, as the Scarlet Rubies are easily the highest profit margin.
Assuming you have that alchemist, you should choose your daily transmute carefully. The opportunity cost of your gem is going to be what you could have sold it for (raw or cut) instead. While transmuting a Scarlet Ruby into a Cardinal Ruby that sells for 200g may seem like a tempting choice, your eternal may cost 30g and you may have been able to sell a cut scarlet ruby for 50g. One of the other transmutes might have a better profit margin, costing you a low demand and low price gem blue gem (like a Twilight Opal) and yield a cheaper but still valuable Dreadstone.
Once you have your daily transmute done profitably and your obvious gems cut and auctioned, what do you do with the rest? Sometimes you'll see a gem that, on your server, never goes above 5g whether you cut it or not. Never sell them below a final price (after the AH cut) of 4.5g, because you can vendor any blue quality gut gem for that much.
The Saronite Shuffle is still profitable
The thing I like most about making gold this way is that I can adjust how much time I spend doing it. If I have barely any time in a week, I'll focus on my transmutes and relisting cut meta gems and epic gems daily. If I have more time to chew on my "create all" button, I'll blast out a bunch of auctions for cut blues, and vendor the non-profitable cuts.
[image credit: quinn.anya on Flickr]
Being an auctioneer is like being able to print money (or gold, as it were). Wait, that doesn't make sense ... You can print on gold, but you can't print gold. That would be closer to transmutation? I can transmute titanium, but that's only worth it if the price of saronite is low enough to justify the time spent making it. I need some sort of analogy here. ... Whatever, I'll figure it out later. Making gold? Every week, Gold Capped will teach you the tricks of the trade, from setting up your auction addons and user interface, to cross faction arbitrage, to learning how to use your trade skills.