For several weeks now we’ve been tracking the prices of Cobalt bars and ore and Saronite bars and ore and dropping these numbers into our spreadsheets. Aside from a slight deflationary movement that we’ve seen with similar items previously, there is really nothing remarkable about these minerals from an economic perspective. Well, maybe one thing: Despite the lower-level availability of Cobalt, Saronite remains the more inexpensive of the two on all three test servers. So that got us wondering, if Cobalt is more readily available, why does it cost more than Saronite?
Our first inclination is that Saronite might be the lesser ore as it is rumored to have been cursed by one of the Old Gods who is believed to have the power to drive men mad. However, being analysts and not mythologists we decided to delve further. We started our research at the end of the supply chain and compared demand for the two metals. Is Cobalt in more demand than Saronite? Put another way, are there more in-game uses for Cobalt than Saronite? WoWhead shows us this is not the case:
Number of recipes calling for Saronite Bars: 96
Number of recipes calling for Cobalt Bars: 50
A further examination of the prospecting properties of each ore reveled that Saronite also yields a higher percentage of rare gems when prospected by a Jewelcrafter. This is similar to the relationship between Fel Iron Ore and Adamantite Ore from the Burning Crusade expansion.
So it is clearly not demand that is driving the price in this case. If demand were the driver, Saronite would be the clear winner in the price wars.
Next we decided to take a look at the other side of the gold coin and explore supply. And here, on the supply side, we found our answer. According to the WoW Top List from Blizzard (also easily found on our Resources page), Saronite is not just farmed much more than Cobalt, it is currently the number one ‘Most Gathered Item’ in the game. Cobalt, on the other hand, comes in regularly somewhere around 11th (hint for those of you following along at home: change ‘# of days’ to 7). In this case, supply is so great that it skews the supply/demand curve and drops the price of Saronite. Or does it elevate the price of Cobalt? Either way, the financial moral of the story here is that just because demand for an item is huge it doesn’t necessarily mean that the price will be higher.
A few tips on making gold from the purchase or sale of these ores:
-Whereas Saronite Bars require two ores of the equivalent metal, Cobalt only requires one. If you’re hunting for Cobalt Bars, don’t pay the inflated price for the bars. Simply buy the ore and have a friendly miner smelt them for you.
-Both of these ores are frequently available on the auction house but, as mentioned above, Saronite is the more popular of the two. So, assuming both are priced reasonably, while you may be able to sell the Cobalt for more, Saronite will usually sell faster. Thus, our conclusion is that it is best to sell Saronite in bulk (3-4 or more stacks at a time) and Cobalt should be bled into the market more slowly.
-As mentioned previously, it is almost always best to sell ore as opposed to bars as it widens your potential market. There are exceptions to this rule but it stands true for most WoW metals.