You’re right, there’s lots of info out there. Too much, in fact 🙂
It depends a lot on how much you want to invest and what kind of materials you’ll be cutting.
I hope you’ll get lots of different opinions, but my recommendation for a minimum initial setup would be:
A master lap. This will hold toppers, serve as a reference surface, add height to another lap, and other uses you’ll find as you go along. These are inexpensive, under $40.
A 600 grit lap for initial cutting. This can be a thin topper, which has limited lifetime and may not be as flat and stable as you like, but is inexpensive, in the $30 range. Or a better quality, thick (doesn’t need the master lap) bonded steel, in the $100 range.
For prepolish and polish, I’d get one of Gearloose’s starter kits. You’ll find them at many dealers, but get info at http://gearloose.co/shop/highest-performance-starter-kit/
While you’re there, poke around the site, there’s much to be learned.
Speaking of learning, there are other online resources. If you haven’t already, you should join the usfgfaceterslist on Yahoo groups. (Advertisement 😉 ) Of course, you should be a member of the USFG. That’s the best $18 you’ll ever spend. A bargain for the newsletters alone.
GemologyOnline has a popular forum devoted to lapidary, mostly faceting. There are websites for many faceting clubs and organizations, and many people in the business of faceting or supplying faceters have online information and links to still more.
As I said, I hope you get many other opinions.