I had originally planned to do an Archaeology post today (still in the queue, no worries) but I felt this information was timely enough to trump it. I did a little experiment yesterday with Jewelcrafting. I had stockpiled enough tokens for a new recipe and was not relishing the idea of buying yet another gem cut that was being driven into the dirt. It occurred to me that jewelry might be a better direction to go since I didn't think anyone was making the new stuff yet.
I did some research and saw that no one on my server was making level 85 jewelry, at least none was being posted on the auction. Then I ran some numbers with Lootrank and saw that much of the crafted jewelry is equivalent to heroic drops. Since players are having trouble running heroics right now, some comparable items for sale might be quite appealing to folks who want to gear up for raids. I did some additional profiles with Lootrank for various melee/agi-based classes and selected the Band of Blades as an appealing choice for DPS classes.
It is not cheap to make these items, you need 4 Chimera's Eye and 75 volatiles. In the case of this ring, volatile air. The mats for this ring easily run 5000 gold on my realm. I was very tempted to pick a different ring with easier volatiles, but in the end I decided that the horrible volatiles were a point in my favor. I'm hoping it will decrease my competition because less players will be willing to gamble their volatile air, if they even have any! Because I had used all my tokens to buy the recipe, I purchased the Chimera's Eye from the auction house. I also purchased about half the volatile air at market rates because I'd been selling mine. So I dumped a lot of money into this ring and I was pretty nervous that it might not sell.
Luckily my theory paid off and the ring sold the next evening during peak hours. I was pretty happy when I did a quick search after dinner and saw that my ring was gone. Here's the funny part: I found out later from my daughter that her friends had been eyeing my ring! She's been running heroics with a group of what I consider elite-minded players. Apparently one of them spotted the ring and wanted to buy it, but a couple of others talked him out of it because the stats weren't optimal for his toon. Then they mentioned it in guild and a rogue expressed interest in it as well! So clearly my ring was attracting attention :) Which was exactly what I was banking on.
The ring sold for 9999 gold. I might have been able to get more for it, but I wanted to make sure it was a price that was reasonably appealing. I checked Undermine Journal last week and someone else had sold a similar ring for about 12k (different stats, but also crafted). I wish their site was still up so we could continue doing research with their price data, but you'll just have to rely on your auction house for information about competitors.
If you're looking to get out of the cutthroat world of cut gems, I believe this is a reasonable alternative. Because of the Chimera's Eye requirement, it's unlikely that horrific price wars will erupt. The daily quest mechanism should limit the availability of Chimera's Eyes for a good period of time. On top of that, you have a high volatile requirement, which I suspect will keep more casual jewelcrafters away from these items.
If you decide to give it a go, come back share your experience with our readers so we can see how the market plays out!