Insider Trader: Jewelcrafting in the first week of Cataclysm

Insider Trader is a column about professions by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped about how to make money using the auction house. Email Basil your questions.

Jewelcrafting in Cataclysm remains one of the most interesting professions in the game, providing resources that everyone needs, as well as offering one of the most flexible (and thereby most appealing to min-maxers) personal performance perks of any profession. Let's take a tour around the profession window, starting with the core ability that everyone thinks of when they think jewelcrafting: gem cutting.

Gem cutting

Take just about any ore, prospect it, and you will get raw gems. Cut these raw gems, and you can add them to sockets in gear, which provide stats. The three prospectable ores in Cataclysm are Obsidium Ore, Elementium Ore, and Pyrite Ore.

  • Prospecting Obsidium yields a higher volume of green-quality gems, with a very low chance for blue-quality gems. Looks like a stack of Obsidium will average somewhere in the realm of six green-quality gems per stack and a very small quantity of blue-quality gems.

  • Elementium gives a lower yield of green-quality gems but a much higher rate of blue gems than Obsidian -- between four and five green-quality gems per stack, as well as an average of about one blue-quality gem per stack.

  • Pyrite hasn't been prospected enough yet to know what the raw gem yield will look like; however, we're reasonably certain that there's a 100 percent chance that it will yield between one and three Volatile Earth for every prospect.

All Cataclysm gems can only be placed in Cataclysm gear, so even though the green-quality ones have more itemization than the epic Wrath of the Lich King gems, anyone wanting to gem a socket before hitting Cataclysm content will be forced to use a gem from an earlier expansion. Right now, not many people are buying cut gems (compared to the number of gems that are being cut by people leveling JC), and when the majority of the realm's population has hit 85 and starts getting gear upgrades that require cut gems, they're likely to use blue-quality. The best green-quality gem is an uncut one, because those still have uses. They can be used to craft rings, necklaces, and a weapon for skilling up (and eventually maybe disenchanting profitably), and some of them are used in the JC daily quests.

Cutting blue-quality gems will require acquiring the cuts, mostly through doing the daily quests. These will be the bread-and-butter JC business catering to endgame players in a few months, but for now, few people have gear worth investing in, and you can only get a handful of cuts per week. Luckily, blue gems appear to be very easy to acquire. In addition to being prospected from the far easier-to-farm Elementium, they can be transmuted by alchemists (no cooldown) for the cost of three like-colored, green-quality gems and a couple of herbs.

Unlike in previous expansions, there is now only one meta gem, the Shadowspirit Diamond. Learning a cut takes four daily tokens, compared to three for the blue-quality cuts, and the the only way I know of to get meta gems is through an alchemist's transmute, again with no cooldown. The real cost is steep, though. Depending on which ore you prospect, you'll need between three and six stacks to make a single transmute, which yields two metas. Your opportunity cost is even higher, however. I can prospect ore day and night on my realm, and while I'll rarely sell a Carnelian, I can't keep Nightstone or Hessonite in stock. The lost profits from not selling these have to be considered but will change from realm to realm.


The green random enchant pieces you can make will sometimes actually end up blue. These blues are not all that rare, either. I've been seeing them every 10th craft or so. Making items with random stats on them is new, and proccing higher-quality versions of them is also a new mechanic.

Chimera's Eyes

Chimera's Eye is the new JC-only gem. You can buy them with a JC daily quest token, and the cuts also cost JC daily tokens (two, to be specific). There is often a decent market in selling these to other jewelcrafters who may not have the tokens to spare. At this stage, every time you get a daily token and spend it on a recipe of some sort, you have to consider it a loss until you've made back more than the cost of what you'd have made by selling Chimera's Eyes.

Another source of these is the Fire Prism, but it takes too many green gems and has a very low (about one in 10) chance to drop an eye for my tastes. I used prisms for leveling, but it's a fairly expensive point.

And of course, pre-raid gear

One of the rewards for getting to 525 skill is the ability to buy the patterns for some very nice preraid gear. Everyone is going to want these; they're iLvl 346 and well itemized. Unfortunately, the largest component of their cost is based on JC daily quests, so even before you consider the 75 volatiles, these won't come cheap.

Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling subculture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking and the methods behind the madness.