I got my Warcraft Weekly #8 email and saw that Blizzard now has a Jewelcrafting site under the Burning Crusade section of the website. Well I guess that means I need to break out the Jewelcrafting notes.
Jewelcrafting, Socketable Items, and More: Crafters will be pleased to know that the expansion adds an all-new profession to the game: Jewelcrafting. With Jewelcrafting comes the advent of socketable items in World of Warcraft, which will give players additional variety in how they can customize their gear. In addition, existing professions will be enhanced to take advantage of the increased character-level limit.
Jewel crafters can also cut gems. Let's say a star ruby drops in the world. A jewel crafter, in addition to making cool items that people will want, can cut that star ruby to make it a socketable gem. The first key to that is that I'll need to get a socketable item, which can be made by other trade skills, dropped in dungeons, that sort of thing. Socketable items, for example, can have three slots. It doesn't compete with enchanting. If I wanted to put gems in all three slots and have an enchantment, I can do that.
At this time, Blizzard has confirmed their plans to allow those who have not purchased the expansion to be able to use items and material created by Jewelcrafting, they state that only those having purchased the Burning Crusade will be able to learn the Jewelcrafting Profession.
The cut gems needed to create socketed jewels amongst other things are said to be mined from mineral nodes
Update August 15, 2006:
One small, interesting tidbit emerged about the new jewelcrafting profession. There will be "meta gems" that can be equipped in your helm slot whose attributes play off of the variety of gems you have socketed on your character. For example, one meta gem might give you a +4 bonus to agility for every blue gem you have equipped; another might confer some kind of bonus for every different-colored gem you have. Certainly some fuel for the min-maxers out there. Source: Gamespy Article