Your first priority as a Jewelcrafter is to level up to 475. You won't be able to do the new daily quest until you skill up to that. I just tested this on a level 80 character and confirmed that as soon as you hit 475 skill the daily quest pops right up. If you have Mining, obviously you want to level that ASAP and prospect for gems. I would collect at least 10 stacks of ore for this portion of the process. If you don't have a Miner, you're at the mercy of the Auction House. You'll need at least 40 green gems for this part: 25 or so to cut and 16 to make into jewelry.
A notable change that hasn't been required in the past but is recommended now is the crafting of jewelry for skill points. We were able to avoid doing that almost completely in WotLK. If you want to get to 525 as quickly as possible in Cataclysm, you have to use the new jewelry recipes. The jewelry recipes enable you to buypass the rare cuts from 465-490 and get just one recipe from the vendor. For those not in a rush, feel free to do daily quests and purchase rare gem cutting recipes instead.
All of the jewelry recipes have random stats - when you make them you'll get a random "of the blah blah" result. I've mentioned previously that the new random stats are much better than what we used to get in Classic WoW. I wanted to quantify that a bit, so I took some notes while making random jewelry. Out of 7 Hessonite Bands only one had crummy stats (of the Whale). I also made 15 Nightstone Chokers and got 2 unappealing items (of the Eagle and of the Whale) and 1 blue quality item.
As soon as you unlock the daily quest, do it every day. You need 4 tokens to purchase a meta gem recipe. Thanks to the recent changes to Jewelcrafting, we can get by with just this one recipe.
I'm starting my guide at 425 because I leveled this profession on two toons and I'm going to post the Full Monty by God! Here is my suggested progression to level Jewelcrafting from 425-525:
425-450: Uncommon Gem Cuts (25 uncommon gems, save orange and purple ones for later)
450-467: Uncommon Gem Cuts (25 uncommon gems) or Hessonite Band (34 hessonite)
467-475: Hessonite Band (16 hessonite)
**** Start Dailies!!! ****
475-485: Hessonite Band (20 hessonite) or Nightstone Choker (20 nightstone)
485-495: Nightstone Choker (20 nightstone)
**** Purchase Meta Recipe ****
495-500: Meta Gem Cuts (5 shadowspirit diamonds) or Nightstone Choker (10-20 nightstone)
500-501: Fire Prism (3 each uncommon gem, on 20 hr cooldown)
501-505: The Perforator (4-8 each rare gem) or Meta Gem Cuts (4 shadowspirit diamonds)
505-525: Meta Gem Cuts (35-40 shadowspirit diamonds)
I just want to warn you that I went through a lot of shadowspirit diamonds between 520 and 525. The recipe turns green at 520 and I had to cut another 19 gems to get the last five points. Be prepared to burn through a lot of them! This is why I have a few spots in here for optional recipes even though the meta can be started at 490.
I realize that throwing the Fire Prism in there might seem a bit strange, but it stays at orange difficulty all the way to 525. You may as well use it if you're conserving meta gems. I made one just for the heck of it and discovered that it can include Chimera's Eye. To me that alone is reason to make them (more recipes ftw).
Another tidbit I'd like to share is for those of you with Engineering toons. Since there's no particular reason to use Dream Emeralds, set them aside. Engineers need them to create the Gnomish X-ray Scope they require to level up. If you don't have an engineering toon, you could also sell them off for those that do.
Final Tally for materials used is:
43 uncommon gems (25 any color + 18 @ 3 each color)
35-49 shadowspirit diamonds
24-48 rare gems (4-8 each color, recipe is yellow so results may vary)