So, I was wondering.
Will JC will still be good even when you can get +20 stat gems?
Like 20 agi, 20 str, 20 hit. Those are limited to (1) unique however. But a few patches away from now you'll see such gems become more commonplace.
Here and now, +16 stat gems
You can currently stick in Bright Dragon's Eyes in your gear, these are equal to 27 stats (27 agi). Or, if you're currently using +16 stat gems these dragon eyes equate a +11 stat upgrade. Sadly they're limited to unique(3) and thus the base profession bonus for jewelcrafting is +33.
If you compare this to enchanting or skinning, and most other professions that only get +32 stats then you'll see that's worth quite something already in itself.
But, besides those +33 stats the dragon's eyes also give an added benefit of being prismatic. This simply means that they'll fit into and activate any color socket. Other than meta sockets obviously. For example, us rogues, druids, hunters, warriors, death knights and enhancement shamans don't generally care for blue sockets so much. They are hard to fill, and cost "dps stats" to activate. As you'll know, this generally means using a gem like this instead of a nice gem like this.
So, you technically lose "half" the value of the gem, and get some stamina in return. Stamina isn't a bad thing, but it doesn't really help your DPS either. Yellow sockets aren't bad, you can use a variety of orange gems in those. And red sockets are quite easy to fill obviously.
Luckily the latest technology in the area of meta gems only needs 1-2 blue gems. And you "will" want to activate those. At the same time your socket able armor pieces will award you +4, +6 or +8 in a single stat when you properly aligned the gem colors in it.
* Single socket items give +4 stats.
* Dual socket items give +6 stats.
* Triple socket items give +8 stats. But those are rare in WotLK.
Meta sockets count double, so helmets can give +8 to stats. This logically also means that helmets are the best slot to "waste" a blue gem on for rogues.
Now, assuming you're "giving up" a 32 AP gem to use a 16 AP + 12 stam gem to activate a blue socket you'd theoretically lose 16 AP worth of DPS. Repeat that three times and you'll have given up 48 AP (24 stats).
Now, if you were maximizing your benefits from sockets and inserted those 3 blue gems in your Head, Chest and Legs you'd lose a "tiny" bit in terms of dps for using an orange gem in your legs. (8*2 - 8x1.5 = 4 : but that's details) But those are easily made up by the fact that you'd get +6 +6 +8 stats from completing the legs, chests and head socket combinations. So, 20 stats returned.
Conclusion thus far, a non jewelcrafter loses 24 - 20 = 4 stats for activating the same number of blue sockets that a Jewelcrafter would. Mind, you don't need to complete socket bonusses and can simply flood your gear with red gems and a single green in your helmet, but where's the fun in that?
The difference here, is that a Jewel Crafter does not lose those 4 stats, so we can legally add those 4 stats to their already marginally better than average 33 stat bonus and come out on none less than: 33+4 = 37 stats. You'd be called crazy if you weren't already a Jewelcrafter.
Note this goes for patch 3.0.9 where we don't have +20 stat gems available yet.
What about +20 stat gems?
Well, that's where stuff gets interesting.
Instead of having a 27-16 : 11 stat difference, you'd now be looking at a 27-20 : 7 stat difference. Obviously 4 stats per gem less than before. Meaning 3*7 = 21 stats as your "profession bonus". That's suddenly rather lacking don't you think?
So it would seem at first anyway. The reality of it still isn't as bright as you may like it to be, but you will see blizzard had some form of balance in mind when they first gave us these gems.
To get a more accurate idea, we'll have to look at the blue sockets again.
This time you're losing 50% of a 20 stat gem. Meaning 3x10 stats lost. As well as +6 +6 +8 regained from socket bonusses. Mind this may vary in future patches but for now I'll keep this comparison equal to the comparison listed above. This means, 30 lost - 20 regained = 10 lost for activating the same number of blue sockets that a jewelcrafter would.
So, since the jewelcrafter "wouldn't" be losing those 10 stats, he'd be looking at: 21 stats gained from the gems + 10 stats you wouldn't lose = 31 stats total. That's awfully close to the usual 32 stats that currently seems to be mainstream for profession bonusses. Still, that does mean Jewel Crafting will be less good than for example Leatherworking, Enchanting of Inscription.
That is, unless we also get new profession perks by that time.
Blacksmithing gets two bonus sockets and since we are using +20 stat gems, that puts Blacksmithing on a solid +40 stats total by that time. No further changes needed.
For Jewelcrafting however, Blizzard would need to make new dragonseyes that give +30 stats instead of +27. This way you'd be looking at 3 x +3 = 9 on top of those 31 stats. JC would be worth 40 stats total then. The same as Blacksmithing.
Enchanting is easy to fix, we'd simply get 2x +20 stats (haste or whatever was spotted in beta) on our rings instead of 2x 32 attack power. And thus end up on +40 stats as well.
Currently JewelCrafting is simply the best profession you can get, but it's future is an uncertain one.
I don't think we'll actually see those changes I mentioned until epic gems become mainstream though. which will happen around 3.2 at the earliest, more likely 3.3. Mind you, 3.1 does have a few +20 stat gems available from a fishing quest, but since those are unique you won't be able to flood your armor with those and thus they're not going to make JewelCrafting redundant yet.
The other professions
Skinning is still on 32 stats.
Mining is still only stamina.
Engineering still sucks, hard.
Tailoring is hard to measure, but generally nowhere near 32 stats worth for melee.
Leather working is still on 32 compared to the regular enchant.
Inscription is still on 32.
Alchemy is still on 32 unless new and bigger potions are added.
Herbalism is still only a self heal, you'll want to avoid it unless you pvp a lot.
If there are no new dragon eye type gems added in the next few patches, JC will turn out to be weaker than it is now, though only marginally so. Blacksmithing however will gain a very substantial boost unless things change.
So, unless 3.1+ Blizzard is adding "new" benefits for each profession that puts all profession bonuses on par with each other again, I'd suggest you aim to get blacksmithing as your primary profession, and get either Inscription, enchanting, skinning or leatherworking as a secondary. This applies to rogues and most other physical dps, but likely affects all classes in a similar way.
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