Gold Capped: Epic gems in patch 4.3

Basil Berntsen
B. Berntsen|09.23.11

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Gold Capped: Epic gems in patch 4.3
pyrite ore price graph
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen and Fox Van Allen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail!

Epic gems will come in patch 4.3. They'll not be prospectable from Pyrite or anything else -- instead they will drop from geodes on raid bosses. This may not be the final design, but it's what Blizzard has decided so far. The people who need the gems most are going to be the source for the uncut gems, and the quantity available will be very low.

Every time I've talked about this before, I've hedged my bets that Blizzard might drastically change the design for epic gems compared to the last expansion. As things turn out, it did, and we're going back to a design reminiscent of epic gems in The Burning Crusade, which were mostly available to raiders. Everyone who stockpiled Pyrite now has to decide what to do with it.

PVP epic gems

One question that hasn't been addressed yet is epic gems for PVP gear. Right now, because resilience is no longer gaining value to Arena players at a non-linear rate, PVPers often use their gem slots to focus on their core stats. This leads to their needing many of the same gems as raiders, and Blizzard has tried to distance itself from requiring PVPers to raid to be competitive at the high level.

The obvious answer to this problem is to allow endgame PVP to reward epic gems at the same rate that they're generated by raiding. However, unless this mechanism is exclusive and doesn't prevent someone who raids and PVPs from doubling their gem take, it will force people who are competitive in either raiding or PVP to do both seriously in order to keep up.

Redistribution of wealth

One prediction I'm willing to make is that these gems will not be bind on pickup, as they'll need to be cut -- that or we'll be able to cut a gem in the "will not be traded" part of a trade window, like the way we currently enchant. Since the gems will be tradable, they will have a value on the open market. Demand for epic gems is always enormous in depth and volume; while a few people are willing to pay a lot for them initially, when they become less expensive, a lot of people are willing to buy them.

Every time raiders open a geode, they will be looking at a potential gold mine. Sure, they could simply keep the gems and use them, but selling them can potentially provide thousands of gold they could use to buy, for example, a BOE with someone else's valor points. This process will move wealth from competitive players who are willing to pay gold for a raiding advantage to players who are willing to wait.

It's like the opposite of a gold sink. Gold sinks, when properly designed, cut down the hoarded buying power of wealthy players, reducing their ability to drive up the price and demand for goods and services. This change will take these stockpiles of gold and smear it across a subset of players who raid but value gold more than the stat upgrade of an epic gem. Hoarders hide the effects of inflation until they spend their hoard.

What do I do with all this Pyrite Ore?

Whenever you are trying to decide what to do next, always start by considering the exact opposite as everyone else. In this case, while everyone is dumping stockpiles, I'm going to be buying it whenever it hits a certain floor price I've calculated.

I did stock a fair amount of Pyrite just in case Blizzard decided to use "copy-paste game design" and make Cataclysm epics prospect from it the way Wrath of the Lich King epics prospected from Titanium Ore. I have to decide what to do with it, as well as the ore I'm planning on buying from the panicky. My choices for the majority of it are:
  • Prospect it. The value of Pyrite on your realm can be easily calculated by an addon or a site like Wow Prospector. If you cut gems, remember that the real value you're going to want to use is what something will be worth when the current set of raiding and PVP elite gear is available to grinders.
  • Blacksmith it. Pyrium Bars are used for making Ebonsteel Belt Buckles, as are all the Volatile Earth you got from prospecting pyrite in step one. You also need a healthy supply of bars for making PVP gear.
There are a few other things that take Pyrite, but these are the real sinks. That said, if you are in either of these markets, prepare for a reduction in the price of a few of your materials.

Brave new world of jewelcrafting

Back in The Burning Crusade, epic gems were not easy to get unless you were given them by your guild. Those few that did exit the raider-only "market" of DKP and arbitrary officer assignments were way more expensive than the slight upgrade was worth -- especially considering people had to work their way up to the latest content and didn't just start there when they finished their first max-level 5-man.

People have more money these days, but epic gems might not be available for less than 6,000g for a long time. Compared to the prices for VP BOEs, regular BOEs, and best-in-slot enchants, their priority might well be last on many auctioneer/raiders' grocery lists. Once all these avenues of turning money into raiding gear are exhausted, then epic gems will considered. After all, why spend thousands of gold on a 10-stat increase when you could spend 20,000g on an ilevel upgrade?

If we want to know what epic gems prices will look like, we need nothing more than to look at the price curve for Eternal Embers. I know, it's not the same, but it has similarities. Embers drop centrally but require an entire raid to produce. Epic gems drop per raider, but rarely. I'll bet that the production rate of epic gems per raid over time will follow the same curve as the number of Embers produced per raid Firelands content.

The demand for Embers is different than it will be for gems, as a lot of Ember gear only replaces gear that drops somewhere in the more accessible bosses in Firelands. Epic gems will always be an upgrade; however, the upgrade will be slighter.

Look at the price history for Embers on your realm, and you will see a trend that should be similar to what the price trend for epic gems will look like.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped. Do you have questions about selling, reselling, and building your financial empire on the auction house? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at and
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