Full Scale Jewelcrafting in Cataclysm

Guest post by Stede from Venture, LLT
I’ve been promising my readers a guide for nearly two weeks.  During that time, I’ve been posting on topics that have finally culminated in what I hope will become a worthwhile resource for the community.  Enjoy.


Part I – Preliminaries
   IA – Preface
   IB – Intro

Part II – Theory
   IIA – Ore
   IIB – Gems
   IIC – Minimizing Waste
   IID – Crafted Jewelry

Part III – Execution
   IIIA – Buying
   IIIB – Selling
   IIIC – Shuffling
   IIID – Keeping it Together

Part IV – Wrapping Up
This guide is written mainly for top-level Jewelcrafters who want to get the most out of their business.  I’ll be presuming prior knowledge of how Jewelcrafting works, and that you know how to use add-ons to list your wares.  I’ve tried to avoid math wherever possible.  I feel this is more easily demonstrated & understood when working with a spreadsheet than reading a wall of text & numbers.  I recommend using my take on Sterling’s spreadsheet, which you can download and play with here.

If you’ve read my blog, you’ve heard me talk about PIE – the amount of gold people are willing to spend on your server today.  It changes every day, and it moves between market segments based on demand.  We don’t directly influence demand; we profit off it.  To make gold, the avid auctioneer will research where PIE is going, leverage diversity to follow it there, position himself for the sale, and then rely on a bit of luck to snag it. 

I put the key words in green and bold.  I won’t drag you through a lecture on economic philosophy, but if you’re into that sort of thing, checkout a few of my blog posts.

Jewelcrafting is primarily an enhancement profession.  It provides a way to add stats to gear.  We all understand the importance of enchants, gems, flasks, and food – a little bit here and there adds up to a noticeable difference.  In this guide, you’ll probably find a lot of stuff you already know, but there will be that little bit here & there that add up to a big difference.

The blood of every non-gathering profession is materials.  For jewelcrafters this is primarily ore.  In previous expansions, jewelcrafters also relied on bars to craft settings, but now settings are bought from an npc.  Bars are used only in crafting higher level jewelry (which also uses volatiles and Chimera’s Eye).

Gems hardly drop off nodes in Cataclysm, though I think I have seen it happen (could have been a Red-Bull-induced delusion, though).  So, ore is your best, and almost always, cheapest source of gems.  Let’s have a quick look at the average yield rates from prospecting at stack of each type:

Obsidium: 6 uncommon gems, 1/3 rare gem
Elementium: 4 uncommon gems, 1 rare gem
Pyrite: 4 uncommon gems, 2 rare gems, 8 volatile earth

So, what can you make with this stuff?  From a basic perspective, rare gems can be cut and sold on the AH and crafted into higher level jewelry.  Uncommon gems can be sold raw, cut and vendored, and crafted into lower level jewelry. 

Throwing a couple professions into the mix adds a couple options. With access to an alchemist, you can transmute uncommon gems into meta gems, and with access to an enchanter, you can disenchant the low level jewelry into enchanting mats.  Diversity is good.

Now, let’s break this down a bit further so we’re all on the same page here.  There are a handful of main uses for raw uncommon gems:
You can also cut uncommon gems and try to resell them on the AH, but they don’t really sell.  I want you to read this and notice some things, like how, outside of tramsmutes and vendoring, Zephyrite is only useful for the JC daily quest, Nightstone & Hessonite are bottlenecks in the leveling process, & Alicite is useful only for crafting.  There’s some more, but I don’t want to do all the thinking for you.

Rare gems are more straightforward: the top-level jewelry made with them can be quite profitable, their use in leveling is very limited, they aren’t used in any dailies, they won’t transmute into anything, and their vendor value sucks.  They do, however, sell very well when cut.  To recap that insanely long grammatical gauntlet: rare gems are profitable when cut & sold on the AH, and when crafted into top level jewelry.  Anything else you can fuhgettabowt.

All this so far is pretty common knowledge, but it helps me make a very key point.  You just saw that demand is not even for uncommon gems.  As a Jewelcrafter, you also know the demand for rare gems is uneven, too – red / blue / yellow / purple / green / orange all sell in varying measures. 

This creates a problem for the large-scale Jewelcrafter, because the cheapest source of materials for Jewelcrafting (ore) yields all these colors in equal measure – whether they’re needed or not.  If they can’t be sold in equal measure, then the full profit potential of the ore isn’t actually realized.  This impacts liquidity (gold on hand), which hampers reinvestment into more mats for the business, and it also takes up bag and bank space.  Those materials that don’t sell are essentially wasted.

Back when Dave Thomas first started the American Hamburger chain Wendy’s, he had a similar problem.  Grill cooks would mess up those tasty square patties every so often when they tried to flip them on the grill.  Since a broken patty couldn’t go onto a burger, this was a problem.  So, instead of wasting the meat, Dave decided to use it another way – by putting it into Chili.  That chili has sold well and remains on the menu to this day. 

The moral of the story is that Dave found another way to move his inventory rather than letting it just go to waste.  As Jewelcrafters, there are other ways of selling gems – shuffling them into meta gems and enchanting materials via alchemy and disenchanting are two of the principle ways that a Jewelcrafter can even out his sales volume across all colors of gems.  This allows the full profit potential of the original ore to be realized, yielding more gold and a smoother business model.

This concept doesn’t apply only to uncommon gems, though.  It also applies to rare gems.  Having 5 Inferno Ruby cuts & 1 Ocean Sapphire cut is not a sustainable large-scale Jewelcrafting business model.  You need to be able to sell each color of rare gem at a profit.  This means you need at least one cut of each color rare gem.  As you continue to pick up more cuts, you should be aware of any disparities in the level of your rare gem stockpile.  If you’re constantly running out of Inferno Rubies, but have 4 stacks of Ember Topaz sitting in the bank, it’s probably time for a new orange cut rather than a red one, assuming both are profitable.

This section talks specifically about top-level crafted jewelry.  Some folks will like it, others will stay away.  The barriers to entry into this market include high materials cost, rare materials, and high cost of designs (5 Illustrious Jewelcrafting Tokens Each).  The benefits include reliable profit margins, low competition from other auctioneers, and high product value.

I covered this topic in depth in a recent blog post, which I encourage you to read if you’re considering this, but I’ll recap the main points here.  This jewelry represents a huge time shortcut for people who are gearing up, and that’s why it sells.  Each piece requires 4 Chimera’s Eye, 4 Elementium Bars, 4 of a rare gem, and 75 of a volatile.  The 75 volatiles cause the price of these to vary widely.  While Volatile Life can be had on most servers for cheap (~10g/each), Volatile Air can go as high as (~50g/each).

This means that some of it is easier to sell by virtue of the cost of mats.  There’s a detailed version on my blog, but here’s a quick list of the gear that I feel is worth crafting.

Earlier, we talked about ore being the primary source material for Jewelcrafters.  It’s not alone, though.  The full-service Jewelcrafter will need to keep a supply of the following items.  (This is also a recap of a more in-depth blog post I recently made).

A few notes about stockpiling.  The primary purpose of your stockpile is to keep your business running and your profit margins healthy when prices of mats rise.  Don’t stockpile more than a week’s worth of ore unless it’s a good deal that you’re confident about.  It’s easy to carried away, but try to be rational about it, and keep in mind the true goal of stockpiling is not to get an uber-deal, but to protect your business.  As for Chimera’s Eye and Volatiles – these really only apply to you if you’re crafting top-level jewelry.  Chimera’s Eye are limited supply items and the prices are sensitive.  Buy as the opportunity for low prices presents itself, but give the market some time to settle.  If you’re constantly exhausting the supply of these, the prices will rise.  Likewise for volatiles (except maybe Life) – these have a higher supply, but each piece of jewelry needs 75 of them.  Buying too many at once will drive prices skyward.  Uncommons gems sold for less than 9g on the Auction House are guaranteed money; buy them all. 

A few notes on thresholds.  Every server is different, so this is work you have to do yourself.  Once you have an idea of what your final goods will sell for and what your materials costs typically are, you can set some thresholds for your snatch list.  You’ll have to be flexible, though – this isn’t a one-and-done type of thing.  Your threshold for ore will be lower when you’re sitting on 4 tabs of the stuff than when you just prospected your last stack.  Again, I strongly recommend researching your market and playing with a spreadsheet to fully understand the risk involved under different market conditions.

There are a few things that you can do to keep prices low when you're ready to buy, and high when you're not.  Posting walls of single items, leaving the lowest priced auction alone, and baiting are things that you can do to drive prices lower - when you're ready to buy.  Thwarting these when you see them, is a good way to keep prices high - when you're not ready to buy (why should your competition have access to cheap materials?)  For a more in-depth discussion of manipulating the prices of materials, check out this blog post
These are some straightforward tips to help you move more inventory.
  • Weekends.  Lots of people play alts on the weekend.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they farm more, but it often means they level professions more.  Make sure your stock of raw gems, particularly Nightstone & Hessonite, is enough to get you through.
  • Size matters.  Stack size is a huge influence on your auctions selling.  Sell your uncommon raw gems in stacks of 3.  Sell your Hypnotic Dust in stacks of 10, and your Greater Celestial Essences in stack of 5.  For these enchanting materials, don’t undercut the lowest auction.  These move fast enough to simply undercut the lowest wall (something bigger than your stack size) and still sell, but at an increased profit.
  • Compression.  Cut gems take up a lot of bag space.  Be aware of your storage situation when you cut gems.  I personally post 4 of each rare cut I have at a time, and I try to keep another 4 of each in my bank toon’s bags.  I can always repost a full cycle immediately after checking my auctions and can top off a little later.
  • Barking.  If you’re selling top-crafted jewelry, barking is essential.  Most players do not know much, if anything, about craftable jewelry.  You have to tell them.  Keep your barks concise, use item links correctly, and don’t bark your price – it will only catch the eye of opportunistic competitors.  People who are truly interested will either whisper you or check the Auction House themselves.  Cold has a quality guide about barking posted here on this blog.
Knowing when to disenchant and when to sell raw gems isn’t an easy task.  It involves some math and some critical thinking – both of which take time.  If you work with a spreadsheet, you can let it do a lot of the work for you.  Markets change, so it’s important to be able to re-evaluate them often and efficiently.   The spreadsheet I’ve been talking about lets you designate some gems for transmutes, some for disenchanting, some for selling raw, and even some for other uses (like your own JC daily).

Keeping up with your business takes time, and many of us play the game for more than gold.  I have an in-depth post about this on my blog, but I’ll recap the main points here.  Most of this work can be fit in between the other stuff you do ore even streamlined.  Prospecting can be done while waiting on a queue to pop or between pulls while running heroics.  Transmutes are best done less often, but in bulk.  Crafting jewelry is best done with a surplus of jeweler’s settings while standing next to a mailbox.  Disenchanting jewelry is easiest with the help of a macro (I have one in my blog post).

The spreadsheet that I’ve been pushing like an infomercial also gives you an estimate of how much time it will take you to get through the entire process from buying the ore to gathering the last copper from your sale of the final goods.  Knowing what you’re getting into in terms of time-commitment can be very helpful.

Also, keep in mind that it’s important to set goals so that you can also set limits.  If this gets to be too overwhelming, consider setting a reasonable cap for yourself or maybe even contract some of the processing out to someone you trust.  Good guildies are great for this because they often appreciate the steady income, the opportunity to help & to learn, and they can be trusted.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, playing with a spreadsheet can help you sort out a tipping structure for outsourcing some of the work.

At this point, you’ve essentially read a term paper, rather than a guide.  You should know how to run a full-scale Jewelcrafting business with minimal waste, maximum market exposure, optimum efficiency, and predictable profits.  By understanding these softer concepts and letting them drive your business, you will be able to make more gold in less time. 

Thanks for reading, and best of luck – it’s the only left that you need.


10 comments: on "Full Scale Jewelcrafting in Cataclysm"

  1. This is a really good post on jewelcrafting...
    Could you follow it up with an order of JC recipes to get.
    I have two JC's and after I get all the meta recipes, brilliant , bold , and stamina gems, I am unsure what is the next.
    So maybe you could post your favorite order of buying recipes with JC tokens

  2. The order of recipes is really dependant on where you are with your mix of cuts and the activity on your server. Check what the other items are selling for. If you are using some of the addons you can easily scan all gems and see how many of each gem are up and what are the prices. As he says buy a cut so that you are not oversupplied with any colour of gem. In my case yellow rare gems are just a pain as they sell for so little.

  3. excelent guide.

    RD: The point of the article is that there are 2 ways to look at how you spend your tokens.

    1) spend them on whatever color rare gem you have most of. If you have 4 Inferno rubies and 26 Amberjewels, get a yellow cut.

    2) Check your server on tuesday/wednesday nights. Which gems are selling for more? buy those cuts. If your server has a different raid time, then check on those nights, too.

    Personally, I sell hit blues really really well. My customer base aren't the Elitist Jerk raiders who do all their homework, because they already bought their gems two weeks into Cata. So I target the cuts that seem to sell well at a medium price and target those as opposed to finding the "rare" cuts.

  4. Did you mention alchemey transmute for the rares as a means of burning off some excess uncommons?

    Great all in one post for jewelcrafting.

  5. @All - Thanks! I did leave out the link to Cold's Guide on barking - here it is:

    http://coldsgoldfactory.blogspot.com/2011/01/announceit-add-on-for-barking.html

    @Bobbins - I had not included any of that in the guide, as I hadn't used much of it when I wrote it. That is an issue that I want to touch on, though, and I'll get a post up on my blog in a bit.

  6. 4.0.6 will introduce new metas. Stock up on the raw shadowspirit diamonds now. Even if you cant grab a pattern right away, the market should be desperate for the raw gems.

  7. BrianShaffer said... January 31, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    Stede,

    Wondering why you would use this as a guest post for JMTC when you posted the same information last week on your blog? Word for word? Are you trying to embarass yourself? or JMTC?

  8. Brian,
    It took me a lot of time this guide, and I contacted Mageshadow about a guest post the same day I ended up publishing - I didn't send him the content, I just sent him a link. The formatting took some time to get straight before Mageshadow could post it here.

    I had promised this guide to my readers for a couple weeks, and it took longer than I thought it would. They deserved to be able to read it when it was done, and not have to wait for the next open slot at JMTC - I wasn't even sure Mageshadow or Markco would post it. I contacted JMTC about this guest post because I have a small reader base, and I wanted to make this available to as many people as could use it.

    I didn't see any point in modifying it from it's original form. It's a guide; it's not meant to have a different version every place it's posted.

    I see you've taken exception to this and decided to crap in the comments both here and on my blog. From the feedback I've received, it seems you're in the minority.

    Let's get this straight - I'm not a pro. I don't have ads, I don't get cash from guide referrals, I don't make videos, add-ons, guides that are so good I can sell them, or podcasts. I've a lot of respect for the guys that do, and I make no bones about being on a different level. If you've read my blog at all, you already know this.

    So, knowing this, I have to say that it takes a very small person to tell me that I should somehow feel embarrassed for trying to share well-researched ideas with the broader community just because I've already shared them first with my regular readers. The guide is just as good today as it was a week ago.

    I'm proud of the content and discussion I generate and put out. I don't think Markco or Mageshadow have any doubts about the quality of the guide. And to be honest, I not really concerned how that makes you feel - but I might buy stock in Kleenex now that I see how upset you are over it.

    I hope that response has sufficiently appeased your curiosity. Good day.

  9. Very informative post on jewlcrafting.
    @Stede, I wouldn't worry about that one criticism. The time spent on the guide is appreciated.

  10. Very nice guide, thank you.
    Only person who should be embarrassed here is Brian.

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