I buy tools as I need them, well, mostly…
I started by reading every jewelry making book I could find. Gave me
both inspiration, and a grasp of techniques.
Tim McCreight books are an excellent start. Orchid has a book
selection that you can purchase and download.
You really can start with a small selection of tools, and add to them
as your skill set expands. A bench with the proper height bench pin
makes piercing with a hand saw and filing far less frustrating.
Files, a goldsmith hammer, a bench block, a micro-motor or flex
shaft, saw frame, a few sheets of abrasive sandpaper, a few burs, a
ruler and a pair of dividers. A torch, and some good lighting. You
can make other tools like punches as you need them. If you are making
rings, a ring mandrel and ring clamp.
I’d suggest working in sterling silver to begin, though soldering it
is a bit different than soldering gold alloys because it is more
conductive. 16-18 gauge sheet is a good place to start, a selection
of round wire from 8-20 gauge,