I've talked before about meta gems, however I feel they deserve more than a paragraph buried in the middle of a jewelcrafting post. Like many of the best businesses, metas are purchased by all end game players and many leveling players. They provide a hefty bonus to PvE and PvP, come in a variety of flavors and (most importantly) get purchased every time someone upgrades their helm.
Since the majority of helm upgrades happen soon after lockout, this is one of those items that you'll want to post on the most popular raid nights on your realm. Typically that means Tuesday through Thursday. Also, like every market in the game, your tenacity in the long run will determine your success. If you make a batch of 30 gems, sell them vigorously, and then move onto something else, you're not going to make nearly as much profit as you can by making them regularly, listing them regularly, and potentially having a higher profit per unit by having stock available every single time there's a demand surge.
Make and cut
Meta gems are cut from either Earthsiege Diamonds or Skyflare Diamonds. These raw diamonds can only be produced by an alchemist transmutation. The raw mats for the earthsieges are an Eternal Fire and two raw green gems you can get from prospecting Northrend ore: Huge Citrine and Dark Jade. The mats for making skyflares are an Eternal Air, a Chalcedony, and a Bloodstone. All of these mats should be readily available on the AH, however if you happen to be involved in the Saronite Shuffle, you can just use your own mats. Obviously, you will have a 20% boost to your yield if your alchemist is transmute specialized.
Once you have your raw gems, you need to cut them. Heading on over to wowpopular.com's meta gem list tells me the most popular gems:
- Chaotic Skyflare Diamond
- Ember Skyflare Diamond
- Relentless Earthsiege Diamond
- Austere Earthsiege Diamond
- Insightful Earthsiege Diamond
Price and sell
Now that you have your cut gems, you need to price and sell them. The beautiful part of this market is that with so few different types of items, you can actually use any interface you want and will be about as efficient as anyone else. Even the default posting interface is sufficient. That said, I use either Auctioneer or QA3 to automatically undercut and manage my cost threshold.
When pricing your cut metas, try to estimate the demand you expect for the period they'll be up. If it's a low demand high supply day like a Saturday, you'll need to list at a larger discount and can still expect stiff undercutting from your competition. My strategy is to post smaller batches and check them more frequently and undercut a little more heavily. I can make many more of these gems than I can sell, however, so there's no sense flooding the market at a low profit on the weekends because I'm just inviting someone to buy me out and relist my stock on a raid night.
On high demand days like Tuesdays, my strategy is to list much larger batches. If I'm undercut, unless the person listed a lot of stock, I'll often ignore them and wait for them to be bought out. If, however, your competition lists a very large batch, it can be worth it to re-undercut them back. Still, since I raid on the majority of the heavy demand nights, I take a "set it and forget it" approach. I'll list a bunch of metas at maybe 10% under Auctioneer's market price.
Additionally, if you have the ability to make more meta gems than you can sell cut, you might want to consider selling raw meta gems. Be aware that this can potentially cost you sales, however if you price the raw gems close to the expensive cuts, you'll be "reinforcing" your price. Clients that search for the mats, reasoning that they can probably find a crafter to cut it for a tip, will see your auctions and potentially elect to just buy the cut gem instead. If this is the effect you're going for, list the raw gems in singles. If you list them in stacks, the only people interested in them will be your competitors, and they probably have the ability to make them themselves. Typically, the only people who list raw metas in bulk are alchemists who do not have an alt with jewelcrafting.
Lastly, an important part of every business, this included, is knowing your cost. Because the yield from every transmute is random, it's important to know that on average, in the long run, you'll make 20% more meta gems than you did transmutes. I'd recommend against calculating the cost every time you do a batch. If you have a really lucky streak, instead of calculating a lower cost for this batch, simply assume that it will be made up for by an unlucky streak in the future. Your cost per raw gem is the price of the mats for a single transmute divided by 1.2. As an example: if it cost you 21G to do a transmute, your final meta gem cost is 17.5g.
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.