I just realized I have not taken a deeper dive on prospecting this time, which is sad as it is one of the markets I have historically enjoyed the most, so let’s take a look at how it works and what the options to profit are!
Prospecting is exclusive to jewelcrafting and involves turning ore into some amount of gems. There is some variability involved as the distribution of gems is based on probability. This means you typically need to prospect a good chunk of ore to guarantee that you make a profit and to even figure out if you can make a profit.
Materials in Shadowlands
In Shadowlands there are three types of colored gems, red blue and yellow. You always get these when prospecting ore, and as far as I have tested every ore type gives equal quantities of each. In addition to that you have four essences that are used in the base legendary recipes from jewelcrafting. These are not evenly distributed. Generally you get a ton of gems and not enough essences when prospecting, so the majority of the value from prospecting comes from the essences.
How are essences used
Essences are the only differentiating factor. These are only used in the two JC base legendaries. The necklace uses servitude and Valor, and the ring uses Torment and Rebirth. The ring is significantly more popular, so the essences for rings are also much more valuable. This is going to be the main factor that changes which ores you may want to prospect, regardless of if you’re trying to sell essences or using it to craft.
There are 6 ores in Shadowlands, which is significantly more than it has been lately. There are two ores that can be found in every zone, and four zone-specific ores. Laestrite and Elethium can be found in every zone, with Laestrite being the common and Elethium the rare ore. They both prospect into gems and equal quantities of the various essences. Elethium however is also used to craft base legendaries, so it is generally too expensive relative to Laestrite to make sense for prospecting. The zone specific ores each give one type of essence alongside an equal mix of the gems. Torment and Rebirth are most valuable, so Sinvyr and Phaedrum are generally the two most expensive zone-specific ores.
I don’t have a huge amount of data, but I have enough that I have some pretty confident yields for most ores.
Laestrite ore: For laestrite I have more than 40k ore in my sample, and I am pretty much 100% certain that you have a 10% chance of getting a gem and 0.75% chance of each essence per ore on average. The screenshot below shows the data. Laestrite is a great all purpose ore and will give you everything, but it is incredibly slow.
Elethium: Based on the wowhead data you get gems at a rate of 20% per gem and 7.5% per essence. If you just value this based on the essences it is profitable to prefer Elethium over Laestrite if it is selling for less than 10 times the price of laestrite. Otherwise laestrite is the better option.
Zone-specific ores: All the zone-specific ores yield gems at 10% per gem type per ore and essences at a rate of about 5%. This means you get 66% more essences per prospect than laestrite and you only get the one you want. Calculating the profitability will require some TSM tricks to do effectively, so let’s look at that.
Implementing in TSM
We can make custom sources for each ore type. We can then either display it in the tooltip, if you plan to just use one or two ore types, or use it in shopping operations. The table below shows the custom sources, and then you can import the TSM group to get shopping operations that use 80% of the prospecting value as the max price, at which point you would want to buy and prospect. If you can profitably use the materials at a higher value you may consider going higher on the percentage, but at that point you might as well buy materials straight up.
- laestriteprospect: 0.1*(matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109)+
- elethiumprospect: 0.2*(matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109)
- oxxeinprospect: 0.1*(matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109)+ matprice(i:173108))+0.055*matprice(i:173172)
- phaedrumprospect: 0.1*(matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109) +matprice(i:173108))+0.055*matprice(i:173170)
- sinvyrprospect: 0.1*(matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109) +matprice(i:173108))+0.055*matprice(i:173171)
- soleniumprospect: 0.1* (matprice(i:173110)+matprice(i:173109)+ matprice(i:173108))+0.055*matprice(i:173173)
Ways to profit
A big factor here will be how you can profitably process the materials. My personal favorite way to do it is if you have the crafter’s mark 2 recipe for jewelcrafting. it requires 3 of each gem, so it is perfect for using up huge quantities of gems. At that point you can essentially just value your ores based on the essences you care about and see if that is profitable. I use essences for base legendaries, so if prospecting for the essence alone at least breaks even I know I can make a lot of gold on the other end when I sell the crafter’s mark 2 gear. You can also split this, it is particularly good if you use the gems for crafter’s marks and sell the essences, as the gems are just too abundant to really sell on a stand alone basis.