My jewelcrafting skill is now at 336. Progress beyond 310 was slow, and now has virtually stopped. Apparently 335 is the highest skill level for which the trainer still gives you recipes, and those are for very expensive level 66 jewelry, needing the new “primal” elemental materials from Outland, which aren’t widely available yet. In any case, jewelry is not something you can expect to make a profit of, as crafted gear always competes with gear that can be found as loot or quest reward. Dropped loot from dungeons is often better than crafted items, which usually results in crafted items selling for less than the auction house prices for the materials. Where crafting becomes interesting is in the consumables, which in the case of jewelcrafting means socketable gems.
There are NPC vendors of socketable gems in Outland. For 2 gold each you can buy one of numerous different gems, in all colors, giving all sorts of bonuses. But the bonuses are relatively small. Starting from skill level 300 a jewelcrafter can cut gems that give bonuses that are roughly 50% higher, for example giving +6 to one stat instead of +4. The raw materials for that are gems like Spessarite, Garnet, Peridot, Draenite, and Azure Moonstone, which sometimes drop from mobs or are found in chests in Outland. The gems can also be acquired by jewelcrafters using the prospecting skill on the new Outland ores.
Prices for the new Burning Crusade trade goods are still in a state of flux, with some people trying to sell goods are crazy prices; I’ve seen stacks of fel iron ore on offer for as high as 50 gold, and cutable gems around 25 gold. I only buy gems if I see them for 10 gold and less, and I think in the long run the prices will come down even further. But as all jewelcrafters, of which there are many, need these gems to skill up, the cut gems that players can use to put in sockets usually sell for 10 gold or less, making me lose money on them. Once the first excitement about Burning Crusade crafting has cooled down, I expect to be able to find more fel iron ore to mine, or to buy cheaper, and then I could get the gems from prospecting. I also got a couple of gems from other players, for whom I cut them for free, earning no money, but a chance for a “free” skill gain.
The highest skill level recipe for this sort of “green” quality gem is 325. And that is the reason why my skill is stuck at 336, and I don’t expect to be able raise it beyond 350. Starting at 350 your only way to increase your skill is by cutting rare, “blue” quality gems. But these gems are rare drops, and the recipes to cut them are even rarer. At the moment the recipes go for 400 gold and more on the auction house, and the gems for 300 gold. The resulting socketable gems give a bonus that is roughly 33% higher than the green gems, for example giving +8 to one stat instead of +6. Obviously unless you are really, really sure that you’ll never change that piece of equipment with sockets again, you aren’t going to put gems into the sockets that cost several hundreds of gold. I can only hope that when more people reach the higher levels and go to the higher level dungeons, the rare gems and recipes will become more widely available.
After 350 the jewelcrafting recipes are for level 70 items of jewelry and for meta gems, about which not much is known yet, beyond the fact that you can put them in any socket, regardless of color. I can only assume that these are “epic” gems, which few people will ever get to see.
I don’t see me “mastering” jewelcrafting in the sense that I hope to one day have all the possible recipes. There are simply too many rare recipes. But nevertheless I’m not unhappy with having chosen that profession. I used to be enchanter with that character, and in a way jewelcrafting is an improved version of enchanting. The further people progress in the Burning Crusade, the more items with slots they will wear. So while gems aren’t useful for twinking low-level characters, as enchanting was, the fact that most items have several sockets should provide a large demand for the gems. Unlike enchants, you can create cut gems and sell them on the auction house. That is a lot less hassle than standing in Orgrimmar trying to sell your enchanting services, which was taking time away from adventuring.. Getting an inventory of “green” quality gems is relatively easy, and doesn’t take as much inventory space as enchanting materials did. So I’m looking forward to always being able to provide my characters, and my friends and guild mates, with at least this quality of gems. If I happen to find some rare recipes and gems while adventuring, that would be a nice bonus.