I'm slightly confused. From what I've seen, many people said jewel crafting is a very profitable career. I just purchased a Delicate Queen's Garnet recipe that allows me to create red +50 agility gems. However, after looking for raw materials (Queen's Garnet), the going price for those in the AH is roughly 750G. I see Brilliant Queen's Garnet (the cut) selling for 450G. How is someone supposed to make profit with going rates such as these? Buying the raw material and cutting it just does not seem feasible.
The profiteering from buying raw mats on the AH and converting them to crafted materials is very low, if it all. This is true with just about any profession.
The real profit of JC comes from what people call the
For estimations of profit, check out this spreadsheet.
I think when people say it is profitable, they mean the service is profitable.
Collecting tips by hanging out in town and cutting gems for people looking for rare cuts can net nice tips from other players.
Buying a raw gem yourself and then putting it up for auction is not as profitable and is more risky. You are better off advertising your services and waiting for those who need you.
In your particular example it is definitely not profitable to buy the raw material, cut the gem, and relist for a profit.
However, if you are doing your dailies and end up with a few gems, then that is pure profit (not counting time spent doing the daily, but you are gaining gold from those too).
Also playing the auction house to make money takes time and effort. Buying raw materials when the market is low and selling the cut gems when demand is high. It is difficult to turn a profit to those that spend more time on the auction house earning gold, but a set and forget method will generally not earn you money unless you are severely undercutting the market to sell that one item. Using an addon like Auctioneer will help you in monitoring the changes in market price for the gems, the high/low buy/sell values among other things.
People selling the raw material for higher prices than the crafted materials are trying to cash in on the immediacy of someone needing something (the uncut gem). Farming your own, or finding a guild mate/friend to set up an arrangement for cheaper raw cost than the auction house would be beneficial to making money on the auction house with cut gems.
If you are going the farming method, when putting things on the auction house, always check to see which you have the potential to earn more from, the uncut gem, or the final product. Don't put all your resources into one cut either, diversify into different cuts so you can offer more and have the potential to make more. If there is already an established jewelcrafter on your server and faction then competition becomes that much more fierce. When I was doing it, I would be logging in and relisting ever 2 to 3 hours to compete with the other guy. It is very difficult to compete on a server when there are established providers already. But if you have the time, you can beat them to earn the gold of the other denizens of Azeroth.
Jewelcrafting is a very profitable profession if you have the time to play the auction house, and sit around an idle advertising your services or paying attention to chat to people asking for a jewelcrafter to make them a gem. People tip pretty nicely for the service you are providing.