Buying items is amazingly useful as a method of powering up and the game is very poorly understood by the players who simply have no idea how to deal with the great glut of rares they find.
My first investment was in some pickup radius gear. It's too boring to miss gold and have to run back for it so I did a search on armour with pickup radius, Intelligence and price under 1000. I got 5 pieces which was a very solid early boost, all rare (yellow).
I'm level 42 now and the glut of items is just starting to thin out a little. Still there's still enough that I can gear up off the AH more than from drops.
I've leveled up my jeweler and can make the first of the crafter only gems. The gem market shows the noobiness of the general population. Last time I looked chipped rubies were selling for more than flawed rubies even though flaweds are better in every way and have no minimum level. Some general points about gems:
- don't craft, shop. None of the findable gems are worth cubing up. For instance a flawed ruby can be crafted from 3 chips. Or you could buy one for 600 and sell the 3 chips for 650 each. Same principle applies all the way up - sell gems you aren't using and buy better ones rather than crafting.
I haven't leveled the blacksmith but the same thing applies even more. For the cost of making an item (which is crafter cost plus the vendor value of several items you salvaged rather than vendored) I can pretty much guarantee you'll find a better one on the AH for less money.
So what should you shop for:
Socketed weapons. Most people are pricing by weapon dps. A socketed weapon with a ruby in it will hit much harder than pretty much anything the same item level.
- Vitality. It simply tunes down the difficulty of them game. I've died quite a few times already, it's a real time-waster.
- Experience. This is very strong. It's a lot of extra experience because we kill a lot of monsters playing this game.
- Main stat. You get a lot of damage from, in my case, a big chunk of extra intelligence, and every stat has a defensive bonus too. Also we see very high stat numbers quite early - I've a level 32 blue hat with 96 int, 43 vit on.