In case you guys missed the latest tweet/wall post, all of the Cataclysm Jewelcrafting recipes went up on our web site last night. We got a new Beta build late Wednesday night, so I spent all day yesterday adding 120 new recipes. Most of these are from the daily token vendor who was implemented in the latest build. She's the new version of Timothy Jones. She offers the daily quest and she redeems the tokens for recipes. Now that Jewelcrafting seems to be mostly (or completely, who knows) implemented I'll run you guys through the likely progression.
All of the uncommon gem recipes are available from the trainer at 425. These recipes will work all the way to the 450-465 range, depending on how tenacious you are. Most crafters appear to be leveling with the Hessonite Band, a ring with random stats that can easily get you to the 485-495 range. With the addition of the new token vendor, you'll be able to access the rare gem recipes at 465. These recipes also get you to the 485-495 range, so I assume players will be focusing on these. All of the rare gem recipes are sold by the token vendor. Unfortunately that means you'll be bottle-necked by the daily quest, so the more impatient of you will still be using the Hessonite ring to level quickly.
The token vendor also sells the new meta-gem cuts and Chimera's Eye recipes. Meta gem recipes kick in at 490 and will get you to the 500 range. Chimera cuts are available at 500 and have exactly the same level range as meta gems. Meta gems will be the likely next step after rare gem cuts poop out on you. They won't get you anywhere near 525 though, the only recipe I see that gets even close is the Fire Prism recipe that's on a 1-day cooldown. You'll note in our recipe lists that there are zero recipes between 500 and 525. This is pretty accurate, most beta players are using the Fire Prism. Even that appears to turn green at 520, a painful process if you ask me.
This is the main reason I haven't tried to level Jewelcrafting yet, I can't imagine this is the final design for progression. But there's a clear trend for moving all 500+ recipe to traders and vendors. So far I've seen it with Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Tailoring and now Jewelcrafting. I think we need to assume that plowing through a profession on the first day will be close to impossible. Jewelcrafting is throttled by the daily quest lady. You just won't be able to purchase any recipe from her until the third day of Cataclysm. The other three professions are throttled by your character level. You can't unlock the Twilight Highlands vendors until you reach level 84 and can access the starter quest in Highbank.
I know some of you are planning to get some Realm First achievements but the list of viable candidates is shrinking. Alchemy is the best profession I see for that. Inscription might be workable, but I've calculated about 300+ volatile life you'd need to do it. It would be very difficult to get that in one day with the current 15% drop rate. Enchanting would also be a challenge - I think anyone who tried would need lots of friends to supply DE items. Engineers also have a shot the way the recipes look right now. Other than that I think gathering and secondary professions are the most appealing candidates for Realm First titles. I will certainly post if anything changes with the recipe progression, but I would start planning around this scenario just in case.