We've known for quite some time that epic gems would be coming with patch 4.3. It was obvious extrapolation. It's the last major patch of this expansion, and we didn't have access to them yet. The last major question was how we'd learn the cuts, and just yesterday, we got major news on that front: Patch 4.3 is bringing new jewelcrafting vendors loaded with epic cut patterns. Each of the patterns can be bought for five Illustrious Jewelcrafter's Tokens -- yes, a work week's worth of dailies. More thrifty folks can roll the dice and buy a Tome of Burning Jewels to learn a random cut, as that method will only set you back four tokens.
Without a doubt, this new vendor will have a tremendous impact on the jewelcrafting profession -- and, with any luck, a tremendous positive impact on your in-game bank account as well.
Jewelcrafting: Epic gem patterns
Let's be honest with ourselves: Most gem cuts are absolutely useless. There are only a few cuts that will see serious demand, such as the +50 strength Bold Queen's Garnet and the +50 intellect Brilliant Queen's Garnet. Others, like miscellaneous Deepholm Iolite cuts (the new blue epic gem), will see weak demand at best.
It's hard to predict exactly how the first few weeks of 4.3 trading will shake out, but I think we can make some educated guesses by simply thinking about how we play the game. If I'm a raider, the most important slots for me are going to be my red ones, since they offer my primary stat (whether it be strength, agility, or intellect). The next most important is going to be orange -- a 50/50 mix of my primary stat and the secondary stat of my choice (haste, crit, mastery, etc.). Finally, I might be looking for a purple gem to score an especially lucrative slot bonus, probably something with hit or spirit. I don't have much use for the other color gems.
It's safe to say that for the most part, other raiders are going to have similar priorities. And their jewelcrafting alts are going to act to meet those needs. Everyone is going to learn those red cuts first. If that's the case, then the price differential between a raw Queen's Garnet and cut Queen's Garnet will be relatively small. Don't get me wrong, these gems will be obnoxiously expensive, but 99% of that price will be a result of a shortage in gem supply as opposed to a shortage of people offering epic cuts. Simply put: The raiders who get the red gems will make the money here, not you.
The market for orange and purple gems, though, should be slightly different. There are a lot of different cuts for these gems, and most of them are viable for one spec or another. I might give my shadow priest an Artful Lava Coral with mastery while giving my boomkin a Reckless Lava Coral with haste. I might need a spirit gem for my resto druid and a hit gem for my mage. The cost in tokens is adding up at this point -- almost assuredly past where most casual players will have saved up. There should be a healthy price difference between raw orange/purple gems and cut orange/purple gems, a function of these epic cuts' being less prolific.
Green, yellow, and blue gems are going to be more of a gamble. There should be a decent supply of these gems on hand if the epic gems awarded in raids are perfectly randomized, since few people are going to want to put these on their gear. (After all, a desirable blue-quality +40 cut will beat an undesirable epic-quality +50 cut on the DPS and healing meters every time.) Unwanted gems have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is likely to be the Auction House.
Supply of raw materials for these less-desirable gems will be high. Supply of the cuts, considering their value in terms of gameplay, will be low. And customer demand of the finished product will be low as well. It all adds up to a recipe for extreme price volatility. Generally, I don't like taking massive risks with my gold making -- I prefer low risk, high return to low risk, unknown return. But if you notice in the first few days of patch 4.3 that there's money to be made here ... it may be worth dipping your toe into the market, especially if few others have.
What can I do to profit?
If it's not obvious enough, you'd do well to start stocking up on Illustrious Jewelcrafter's Tokens as soon as possible, if you haven't been doing it already. Each Tome of Burning Jewels will set you back four tokens, and there are over 60 epic gem patterns to be learned. It doesn't take a math genius to figure it out -- that's a lot of dailies if you're trying to learn them all.
You'll want to prioritize your purchases. It's unlikely that you'll earn a red gem through raiding on day one. That being the case, you may be better off skipping those cuts and just buying red gems pre-cut on the AH for your own toons. Go for the cuts you can make the most money off of in the first few weeks of patch 4.3, because that's where fortunes are truly made -- the first few weeks of a patch.
Pay special attention to those orange and purple cuts, since there's a lot of potential there. Check to see where the largest price differences between raw and cut gems are. Favor the cuts that you can use personally over those you probably won't. I strongly recommend buying specific cuts at the five-token rate at first. Once you've gotten the specific cuts that offer the greatest profit, you can fill in the gaps by buying the four-token Tome of Burning Jewels.
Finally, before you buy any cuts at all, do a quick price check on Chimera Eyes. These beauties tend to get extraordinarily expensive when a patch first drops, and many jewelcrafters will be looking to buy these with cash instead of tokens. It's very much possible that you'll make more money through purchasing five Chimera Eyes as opposed to working to earn profits from one specific cut. Research always pays off!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.