Also, the high cost of gold is somewhat
discouraging. As a result, I imagine I will be doing ~99% of my
learning in silver.
One tip I picked up in my silversmithing and jewelry classes
that I still use is to practice / experiment / work out the
design first in copper and then do the final piece in silver or
gold. Better to make all your mistakes and trial and errors on
the cheap material. Hope this helps.