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The upper tier gems are very desirable items to obtain for top tier players.

Is it worth it to combine gems in the lower tiers to build up to them (obviously upper tier gems must be combined or purchased)?

Is there a certain break point where it isn't worthwhile to combine gems below that quality?

Worded differently, what price must the auction house demand for a gem before it is not worth combining them yourself?

As stated here, the new costs in the 1.0.3 patch deployed on June 19 are:

Quality       Previous Cost                      New Cost
Flawed        3 Chipped + 500 gold               2 Chipped + 10 gold
Normal        3 Flawed + 750 gold                2 Flawed + 25 gold
Flawless      3 Normal + 1250 gold               2 Normal + 40 gold
Perfect       3 Flawless + 2000 gold + 1 Page    2 Flawless + 55 gold + 1 Page
Radiant       3 Perfect + 3500 gold + 2 Pages    2 Perfect + 70 gold + 2 Pages
Square        3 Radiant + 7500 gold + 1 Tome     2 Radiant + 85 gold + 1 Tome
Flawless Sq.  3 Square + 20,000 gold + 2 Tomes   2 square + 100 gold + 2 Tomes

For example, to upgrade from chipped to flawless square:

1 Flawless Square 
  = 2 square + 100 gold + 2 tomes
  = 2 * (2 Radiant + 85 gold + 1 tome) + 100 gold + 2 tomes
  = 4 * ( 2 Perfect + 70 gold + 2 pages ) + 270 gold + 4 tomes
  = 8 * ( 2 Flawless + 55 gold + 1 page ) + 550 gold + 8 pages + 4 tomes
  = 16 * ( 2 Normal + 40 gold ) + 990 gold + 16 pages + 4 tomes
  = 32 * ( 2 Flawed + 25 gold ) + 1630 gold + 16 pages + 4 tomes 
  = 64 * ( 2 Chipped + 10 gold ) + 2430 gold + 16 pages + 4 tomes  
  = 128 Chipped + 3070 gold + 16 pages + 4 tomes

Assume drop rates are going to remain unchanged and thus the prices of pages and tomes should be relatively stable (this assumption may be invalid, explain why if you disagree).

At what price for a flawless square does it become worth taking a DIY approach?

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I don't have any expertise on this yet, but I'd say yes. Seeing as gems aren't an expendable resource, once you invest in the gems you need, you'll never have to spend money on them again, even when you get better gear. –  Mr Smooth May 22 '12 at 17:52
    
possible duplicate of How much does it cost to combine a gem? –  Nick T May 22 '12 at 17:52
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@Stephen I thought costs weren't changing until 1.0.3, which isn't out for at least another week. –  Nick T Jun 12 '12 at 20:48
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@Stephen: The costs haven't changed yet; they will be changed in the upcoming patch. As the new prices haven't been released yet, and the auction house (obviously) hasn't had time to adjust to those new prices, an updated answer cannot be made yet. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 12 '12 at 22:01
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@BlueRaja makes an excellent point. While the 1.03 patch will drop the cost of combining, this will almost certainly also result in a drop in auction house prices as well, meaning that the existing answers are probably still correct. –  bwarner Jun 19 '12 at 15:27
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10 Answers

up vote 43 down vote accepted

No.

This will vary wildly by current market conditions, but as of now, the answer is no. Gems below Flawless Square (the highest level that drops) are dirt cheap on the AH - often cheaper than the fee to combine three gems of the previous tier - to say nothing of the value of the gems themselves!

Over the course of the past 12 hours, I've been periodically checking the AH prices for an order of 10 gems of each type, in every quality from Chipped through Perfect Square, noting both the price I was being offered, and the "Average Last 10 Trades". I did a bunch of rounding and averaging to get these thoroughly unscientific prices for each Gem Quality:

Gem Quality             Amethyst     Emerald     Topaz     Ruby
#1: Chipped:            115          180         125       200
#2: Flawed:             45           50          100       125
#3: Normal:             50           100         60        175
#4: Flawless:           40           125         80        225
#5: Perfect:            185          225         150       725
#6: Radiant:            250          350         250       850
#7: Square:             450          900         850       2000
#8: Flawless Square:    5000         7000        6500      9250
#9: Pefect Square:      75000        80000       70000     85000

While the prices you see may vary, the point is that at the moment, the market for gems below the Perfect Square level is very much a Buyers Market - crafting is a waste of gold, and of precious Jewelers Pages and Tomes.

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+1 for pseudo-SCIENCE rawr –  Tharius May 22 '12 at 23:01
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I've also found this to be the case, I picked up a Square Ruby (good for weapons) for $3k. But to combine chipped rubys to that level costs around $50k and you have to find the (2000+) gems first. –  Coomie May 23 '12 at 1:15
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Pages of Jewelcrafting are hardly precious; I'd happily turn them into toilet paper. –  Nick T Jun 12 '12 at 20:35
    
Once you get to Inferno, you will no longer need to combine these gems. –  Bora Jul 3 '12 at 13:28
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Is just a matter of math. I did some quick yesterday and it's not worth for:

  • Rank 1 Chipped: n/a
  • Rank 2 Flawed: 500 gold
  • Rank 3 Regular: 750 gold
  • Rank 4 Flawless: 1,250 gold
  • Rank 5 Perfect: 2,000 gold and 1 Page of Jewelcrafting
  • Rank 6 Radiant: 3,500 gold and 2 Pages of Jewelcrafting

You get lot's of those in hell/inferno

I even could say to avoid

  • Rank 7 Square: 7,500 gold 1 Tome of Jewelcrafting
  • Rank 8 Flawless Square: 20,000 gold and 2 Tomes of Jewelcrafting

Because they all can drop.

Focus your gold on the ones you CAN'T drop.

  • Rank 9 Perfect Square: 30,000 gold and 3 Tomes of Secrets
  • Rank 10 Radiant Square: 50,000 gold and 6 Tomes of Secrets
  • Rank 11 Star: 80,000 gold and 9 Tomes of Secrets
  • Rank 12 Flawless Star: 100,000 gold and 12 Tomes of Secrets
  • Rank 13 Perfect Star: 200,000 gold and 15 Tomes of Secrets
  • Rank 14 Radiant Star: 400,000 gold and 20 Tomes of Secrets

Source How much does it cost to combine a gem?

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THIS ANSWER IS UPDATED AS OF PATCH 2.0/REAPER OF SOULS

All previous answers assumed an environment where the Auction House was a possibility for gem procurement. This is no longer the case in patch 2.0, and in order to get gems above the "Imperial" level, you must pay Covetous Shen to combine gems, as well as provide a few materials beyond simply money and gems at the highest levels.

So, is it worth it to combine gems?

YES.

In Patch 2.0, it is possible for Marquise gems to drop from level 61 and higher monsters. It is also possible for Imperial quality gems to drop from level 61 and higher monsters on Master difficulty and higher.

The gap between a Marquise gem and an Imperial gem is substantial, but gets even higher as you go further. Let's take an example of an Emerald placed in your chestpiece...

  • Marquise: +62 Dexterity
  • Imperial: +100 Dexterity
  • Flawless Imperial: +160 Dexterity
  • Royal: +220 Dexterity
  • Flawless Royal: +280 Dexterity

So, given that you can achieve a boost of +180 to a particular stat by combining gems over what you can get just from drops, it is absolutely worth it.

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It is absolutely worth it 1

1 But only from flawless squares and up.

The total cost of crafting to go from a flawless gem to a star gem is 500k gold + cost of supplies.

The cost to buy a Star amethyst, topaz, etc are usually 600k+ (700k+ for a star emerald).

Add this to the fact that flawless squares and tomes of secrets drop on inferno difficulty (i.e. effectively free), its cheaper to find and craft your own that to buy from the AH.

Even if you buy materials from the AH, the 27 flawless squares and the amount of tomes of secrets costs less than the extra 100-200k you'll have to pay to purchase star gem outright.

Now, whether or not you earn a profit if you choose to sell your star gem is a different issue since you'll take a 15% hit from the transaction fees, but if you need a star gem to use its definitely cheaper to craft your own (assuming your jeweler is already upgraded to the max).

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Edit: earlier answer was based on AH price from a couple of days ago, just went throug the price for Amethyst and updated the answer.

With the changes in 1.0.3 it will be worth while combining gems form Flawless Square and up (based on current EU SC AH prices).

Anything lower will not be worth it due to the price of Page/Tome of Jewelcrafting being higher than the AH price of gem created with them.

Unless blizzard buffs the drop rate of Page/Tome of Jewelcrafting(there by lowering the price) chances are that upgrades will always start at Flawless Square or Square gem if you happen to find some cheap tomes.

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I have made this spreadsheet for calculating prices of upgrading, make a copy of it and fill in the tan boxes with current AH price of gems/pages/tome to get the calculations. –  Blem Jun 12 '12 at 21:24
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  1. NO

  2. Your calculations are incorrect

It's not 2250+1500g to 3 Normal, it's 750*3+1500*3 to 3 Normal or 750+1500 to 1 Normal because you will need 9 chipped gems to make 3 normal therefore you will spend 2250+4500 = 6750 for 3 normal gems. 3 Flawless would be 1250*3+6750*3 = 24k. 3 Perfect = 2000*3+24k*3 = 78k. 1 Radiant = 78k + 3500 = 81500 gold. So it doesn't worth it. At all.

A table for easier visualization:

3 Chipped = 1 Flawed
3 Flawed = 1 Normal
3 Normal = 1 Flawless
3 Flawless = 1 Perfect
3 Perfect = 1 Radiant
Therefore ==>

1 Radiant = 3 Perfect = 3*3 Flawless = 3*3*3 Normal = 3*3*3*3 Flawed =
            3*3*3*3*3 Chipped

==>
1 Radiant = 273 Chipped gems AND gold required for upgrades
273/3 * 500 = 81 * 500 = 40500
273/3/3 * 750 = 27 * 750 = 20250
273/3/3/3 * 1250 = 9 * 1250 = 11250
273/3/3/3/3 * 2000 = 3 * 2000 = 6000
273/3/3/3/3/3 * 3500 = 1 * 3500 = 3500

==>
40500 + 20250 + 11250 + 6000 + 3500 = 81500 gold

Wait for 1.03 when the prices of gemcrafting will drop dramatically.

P.S. I know that it's an old question :)

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It depends on the AH prices and how much you value Tomes.

Short version: If you have all items required (gems + tomes) check AH price for the gem and calculate 2 * gem price + fee. If this is about the same as the better gem, then craft it yourself, otherwise buy.

Lets assume you have a lot of Tomes and Pages in your stash. I have above 100 of each without farming. You could try to sell them in the AH, but I think that is a waste of time. So for me Tomes have a value of 0, as long as I use the ones in my stash.

Especially with the AH item limit of 10 it could also be problematic to sell your "cheap" stuff. You have to evaluate if you want to sell some rare item for 1m or 100 Tomes for 50.000.

Now you have to check the AH prices for the gems.

Here are two examples (EU Server):

  • Square Amethyst: 107
  • Flawless Square Amethyst: 310

This would yield 1 Flawless Square = 2 * 107 + 100 + 0 = 314. It is not worth combining Amethysts.

Another example:

  • Square Emerald: 290
  • Flawless Square Emerald: 1466

Again 1 Flawless Square = 2 * 290 + 100 + 0 = 680. I would prefer combining the gems instead of buying Square.

You can also include the Tome price of about 500 a piece, then the calculation looks a bit different.

The problem is you cannot use the exact AH prices as it depends if you are buying or selling. A Tome might cost 500, but if you sell it for 500 you only get 425.

Plus if you already have a level 60 char it is not even worth calculating this stuff. You can easily get 10k+ in about 6 minutes.

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You have to watch the prices in the Auction House, they slowly rise and fall. If you time it right, you can buy all the flawless squares and tomes required to make a perfect star, sell it and make about 500k.

Of course you will need about 10m to invest. I started with 13m and I am now at 18m.

The time it takes you to make them gems, if you catch the market on the up curve, you will make a few bucks. But it is still better to farm for at least some meterials to increase your profit margins.

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After the v1.07 patch we've seen crazy auction house prices for Emeralds (in particular) due to the use of perfect squares in crafting dexterity amulets (for example) and for those players who are building Marquis gems (though I suspect crafting is the main driver here).

At these prices, if you FIND the materials it is near universally worthwhile to craft and sell.

Purchasing, crafting and reselling still is very touch and go. Here are some example prices observed on the auction house:

Emerald             Free Gems   A.H.                    
                   A.H.  To Star     to Star    Free Profit   AH Profit 
Chipped            1126 1,080,851   4,972,307   -103,351     -3,994,807
Flawed              489 1,063,571   1,908,563    -86,071       -931,063
Normal              574 1,041,971   1,537,907    -64,471       -560,407
Flawless           1033 1,024,691   1,470,947    -47,191       -493,447
Perfect             995   774,563     989,483    202,937        -11,983
Radiant            2097   647,879     874,355    329,621        103,145
Square             4952   621,851     889,259    355,649         88,241
Flawless Square   11153   608,432     909,563    369,068         67,937
Perfect Square    80500             1,008,716                   -31,216
Radiant Square   309223             1,025,741                   -48,241
Star            1150000 

POJ 1103
TOJ 397
TOS 2008

Note that I haven't assumed free pages or tomes for the free profit column, just free gems since that is the resource you'll likely run out of first.

So there are situations, such as this ridiculous 1.150m/star emerald market where things can work out, especially if you have your own supplies.

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Yes. During leveling and PvE content, higher gems can really make that much of a difference since there are no level requirements. Think of a socket weapon. A chipped is nice, but a pure flawless ruby is better.

As a core raider in WoW, it's also about maximizing throughput. Even cranking out 100 more dps can be the difference of a win or a loss. Personally, I would rather spend more to have the best than to chance a fail/death due to being cheap.

Another thing to consider, I've been running several nightmare/hell "cow levels". The number of gems dropping and their quality is amazing. Typically now, anything less than Radiant gets vendored if i happen to pick them up. It's more of a waste of time combining the lower level gems than it is for me to ignore them.

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This does not really answer the author's question it only says "lots of gems drop in the secret level" –  Ramhound May 24 '12 at 11:52
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