What Item Level to start using "serious gems"

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Not sure which forum to put this in; hope this one is okay.
I'm still pretty new, only playing about 4mths now, first time have a char at this level.

Slowly slowly climbing up to lvl90, and trying to find the balance between knowing I'm going to find better gear so not wanting to irrevocably burn great gems (+320 and up), but also wanting to be as solid as I can for raids & team support in the here and now.

What sort of item level should I be expecting as I progress from lvl85-lvl90?
In other words, at what point do I assume I've got a lvlX item and that's probably going to be with me for a while so I should socket a gem I don't know that I'll ever have again, vs saying I should socket a less powerful one as there's a better item around the corner.

For reference, right now just hit lvl86, and have items mainly in the 365-480 range.

Thanks!
Gear enhancements generally don't matter until it's time to start running heroics, so I'd say wait until 90 and the ilevel is at least 450-463. If you can get some free or cheap Cata gems it may not hurt to use them in that Cata gear, but that gear will definitely be replaced before you hit 90.
Personally, unless you have easy access to gems (raw or cut) then wait until you are in raid gear. The difference they will make from the time gem to the time you upgrade is negligible. This is especially true in LFR. On my toon I am raiding with, I started gemming and enchanting at iLVL 476 and up.

You know Murphy is gonna bite you in the !@#$ the moment you gem that iLVL 463 heroic blue. You will head into LFR and replace that piece immediately, thus wasting your gold/gem.
You're going to be replacing all of your gear several times probably between now and raiding at level 90. Most, if not all, of the items will not have gem sockets anyway, so gemming will not be a choice. For the items that are too high level for you to wear now, i.e. the 480 item(s), I would wait until you are level 90 and can equip them. At that time, you'll have a better idea of what you need in terms of stats from the gear you will have gathered along the way.

You're not going to be "supporting" a raid team until you reach 90 and have some starter raid gear, so as the others said, don't gem the Cata gear unless you have free or almost free gems.
You know Murphy is gonna bite you in the !@#$ the moment you gem that iLVL 463 heroic blue. You will head into LFR and replace that piece immediately, thus wasting your gold/gem.


I had that experience in TBC. Was doing semi-regular Kara runs with my guild, and my poor warrior seriously needed a better 1-hander. So day after days, I'd run Heroic Mech, desperately wanting The Sun Eater.

Finally, after 36 runs, got my Sun Eater.
Shelled out tons of gold for mats to get Mongoose enchantment.
Two days later ... King's Defender lands in my lap.

Yup, shelled out tons of gold for mats to get another Mongoose.

I tended to gem/chant my gear as leveling, but only because I have an alt with enchanting, and an alt with jewelcrafting. Rather than deal with the AH (I really hate trying to sell items), I'd get skill ups making chants/gems that my toons could use.
If there are super cheap gems on the AH while getting your cata gear, it slightly helps, but not essential, I wouldn't worry about it. Once you start getting heroic MoP gear is when you should consider gemming. That being said, you easily replace gear with LFR, so as for paying a ton of gold for heroic gear, it isn't really THAT wise.

Although you will get the occasional Internet Tough Guy who talks smack about empty gem slots in your heroic gear XD

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