This article is a copy of "The Burning Crusade Townhall", an official article by Blizzard Entertainment. It presented information about a variety of things in the Warcraft universe. The original article, formerly located at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/burningcrusade/townhall/, did not survive the overhaul of the World of Warcraft Official Website.
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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade will introduce a lot of new features to expand the game in many interesting and fun ways. One of these additions is the introduction of a new profession: jewelcrafting.
Jewelcrafters learn the art of creating beautiful jewelry and trinkets from metals and rare gems. By processing the raw ore mined from the various deposits and mineral veins, jewelcrafters can extract gems from the ore which they can then use for their craft. Although miners sometimes find gems while gathering ore, jewelcrafters mostly rely on their prospecting skills to get more of the precious stones.
Jewelcrafters work with gems in many different ways. If a jewelcrafter uses gems to create jewelry, he usually only needs the raw, uncut stones for his work. These rings, amulets, and trinkets function just like those that can already be found in the game, with a few notable exceptions. For example, jewelcrafters can learn to create gemmed figurines that they can carry in their trinket slots. While these figurines all provide passive benefits, they can also be used to provide the player with a short buff – just enough to give you that little damage boost or maybe that quick burst of extra healing power you may need in a tricky situation. These figurines will bind when picked up, so only jewelcrafters will be able to use their powers.
Another way jewelcrafters can use gems is by cutting them, preparing them to be used in socketed items. Gems come in many different colors and shapes. Different types of gems have different basic properties, and a gem's cut also determines the effect this gem will have. Jewelcrafters can learn several types of cuts for each kind of gem: the Azure Moonstone, for example, can be cut into a lustrous, stormy, solid, or sparkling Azure Moonstone, and each one of these cuts offers different bonuses when used in a socketable item. Placing cut gems into an item's sockets will add the bonuses of these gems to those of the item, allowing players to customize their equipment to better suit their individual play style or the different roles their class can fulfill.
At higher levels, socketed items and specially cut gems become an important part of an adventurer's "bag of tricks". Both armor and weapons can have sockets. Some socketed items can be found in dungeons, but the expansion will also introduce a lot of new recipes for all the professions, including many recipes that let leatherworkers, blacksmiths, and tailors create socketed items. Socketed items can be of uncommon, rare, or even epic quality. An item's sockets can also have a specific color; if you put a gem of a matching color in each socket, the item will reward you with a special stat bonus beyond the gems' regular effects. However, you can also put gems of a different color in these slots if you would rather have a specific gem's effect instead of the added bonus.
Any character can insert gems into an item's sockets – you do not need to be a jewelcrafter to do that. However, you will need to ask a jewelcrafter or become one yourself to obtain most of the gems you can socket. Another source of cut gems are the expansion's high-level bosses. There are rumors that some of these monsters hold stones with powers beyond those of regular gems, but getting your hands on these jewels might prove to be a most formidable challenge; it seems unlikely that their owners would part with their precious stones willingly.
On the right side, you can see a preview of the current item-socketing interface from the game. When you shift-right click a socketed item, this box will appear, displaying the item's current stats and any gem effects that are currently on the item. You can add new gems to the item by placing one of the gems from your inventory into one of the item's sockets. The interface allows you to play around with different gem configurations, so you can try out how different gems will affect your item before you decide on what gems you want to socket. Once you have found a configuration you like, you can press the "Socket Gems" button to socket the gems you picked.
Socketing gems will lock them into place, and there is no way to remove a gem once it has been socketed. You can put a new gem into a socket that already holds a gem, but by doing so you break the old one out of its socket, shattering the gem and making it unusable. This allows you to add gems to your new socketed items right away without having to wait until you find the "perfect" collection of gems, since you always have the option of upgrading your item later.
Try putting some gems from your inventory into the socketed item and check out how they affect its stats; this should give you an idea of how socketing will work in the expansion, but please keep in mind that both the stats and the interface presented here may change as we progress further in the development of the new jewelcrafting and item-socketing features of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.