Blizzard has now confirmed that salvage materials will be based on the item's required level, including reduced level requirement affixes.
Final Test Results
- Normal: 1-29
- Nightmare: 29-49
- Hell: 50-59 (Exclude max level relics)
- Inferno: 60+
- Normal: 1-26
- Nightmare: 27-47
- Hell: 48-58
- Inferno: 59+ (Max level relics are included)
Salvage materials are based off of required level, as detailed on the item itself.
- Gather items at the high and low end level ranges, courtesy of the Auction House.
- Record stats and item level.
- Salvage at blacksmith.
- Record results.
Materials: 8 magic items bought from the auction house, all at level 28. All magic, no rares.
Results: 8 Subtle Essences, 1 Fallen Tooth.
Corollary Benefit: Salvaging socketed items returns the gem.
Test Confirms: Level 28 provides Normal items.
Materials: 7 magic items bought from the auction house, all at level 29. Also all magic.
Results: 7 Shimmering Essences, 2 Lizard Eyes
Test Confirms: Level 29 provides Nightmare items.
Normal/Nightmare level barrier found
Materials: 2 magic items bought at level 48. (No items at level 49 found). Both magic.
Results: 2 Wishful Essences, 1 Encrusted Hoof.
Test Confirms: Hypothetical Nightmare/Hell barrier lower than expected.
Materials: 2 magic items bough at level 46. (No items at level 47 found). Both magic.
Results: 2 Shimmering Essences.
Test Confirms: Level 46 items provide Nightmare items. Barrier is at level 46 or 47.
Nightmare/Hell level barrier found +/- 1 level
Materials: 4 magic items, ranging from levels 45-49. All have the reduced level requirement affix, giving true item levels of 51 and 52.
Results: 4 Wishful Essences.
Test Confirms: The reduced level requirement affix does not affect salvaging results. True item levels are used.
Fcrick has pointed out that there are level 59 items that salvage into Inferno materials. I have perused the item list on the D3 website, and have come up with an exception to the hypothesis: Jewelry (rings, amulets, and follower relics) have lower level requirements for the cutoff.
To that end, I have done some more testing, and determined that jewelry should be treated as +3/+2/+1 to their item level for the respective barriers. This can be seen by looking at Kymbo's Gold and this amulet. Relics have set levels they can appear at, and the reference here corroborate this, except at level 59. Since that is max level for relics, they will salvage into Inferno materials.
I have also re-done my testing taking this new knowledge into account, and have come up with a hard level for Normal/Nightmare and Hell/Inferno. I need a couple more items at levels I could not find on the auction house to confirm and corroborate, but I believe these values will hold out. If anyone wants to help out, I need the following salvaged to confirm the last bits:
- A level 26 piece of jewelry (should give Subtle Essence)
- A level 47 piece of jewelry (should give Shimmering Essence)
- A level 49 piece of armor or weapon (should give Shimmering Essence)
Salvage Results, if anyone wants to corroborate or double-check.