Foo has posted one of the sanest blog entries I've come across concerning the subject of Epic gems.
I 100% agree with Foo, both with the Why and the thinking that we will not see the Epic gems anytime soon.
I think Blizzard will follow the previous expansion's design and release them halfway through the expected lifetime of this one.
I am very aware that Blizzard has been saying that they want to do things differently than previous expansions, but there are certain items that have an expected duration and effect that will have to be replaced and/or buffed.
Blizzard makes sure to address that issue by releasing new gear as well as new tradeskill spells and recipes, for the sole purpose of balancing everything with the new level of content they are putting out.
Gems are among those items.
And right now there is no need for Epic gems for the content that we are currently working with.
Adding them is not just a nerf to the content, it's a nerf to the gems by replacing them with new ones.
And let's be honest here, the general foaming at the mouth that everyone has regarding Epic gems is just because it gives them more money opportunities, a reason to have gem prices going higher than they currently are, and because Epics are Purplez and people buy Purplez.
Jewelcrafting is really easy and every person with a few brain cells can make money out of it, and I suspect that maybe it's for that reason that we see so many people asking "When are they coming out ?" so goddamn frequently often.
(How many more JMTC meetings with that question popping up again ?
Doesn't it sound like kids totally annoying the heck out of you by going "Are we there yet ? Are we there yet ? Are we there yet ?".)
I was genuinely surprised by the blogging community, in the fact that I did not see a lot of people dowsing the fires regarding that subject, but instead speculating even more on the possibility that Epic gems were always around the corner.
It may be just me being weird and everything (wouldn't surprise people that know me), but in Wrath I was a few weeks away from having picked up all the available Jewelcrafting Designs from the Dalaran vendors when we got Epic gems and all the new Designs that came with them.
My list went from "about 10 to go" to "shoot me - this will take me 200+ days of dailies to get all of that"...
If my calculations aren't wrong, no one in the game currently has all the Cataclysm Designs on their Jewelcrafter, even if they did their daily quest every day and did not buy any Chimera's Eye.
I'm not saying that it's a 100% fool-proof way of approximating the release of Epic gems, but if the Wrath model is repeating itself again with Cataclysm, you'll know what to expect in the next expansion.
Right now with the utility they have in the current game, as well as the utilities of Rare gems in the new 4.2 stuff, Blizzard is showing that they want us to still have things to do with them.
The Rare gems that you aren't using so much right now will be worth more and you'll be using them a bit more frequently.
I don't think that what they are proposing to do with the Amberjewel and Dream Emerald will totally flip their situation in the Jewelcrafting market (though they could have done more and increased the number of jewels required to craft items), but it's steps in the right direction.
But hey you'll need them when we get the expected Cataclysm version of Icy Prism.
My prediction for the appearance of Epic gems : end of 2011 - beginning of 2012.
EDIT: Here's another excellent way of explaining the Epic Gem issue : http://pvsah.blogspot.com/2011/06/when-to-expect-epic-gems.html