Each Japanese natural stone have its own distinctive characteristics and this is creating an endless variety of unique stones.
They can have different uses, but since my experience is in razor honing, I will be referring here only to those stones that are super fine and suitable to put a sharp and comfortable shaving edge on razors.
In order of importance, here are the main features, that in my view, influence the value of the stone:
is determined by the cutting power and fineness and it is the most important feature in a natural sharpening stone.
Stones with strong cutting power are more desired because they remove steel efficiently and reduce the time spent sharpening.
Stones with higher fineness levels will put a much sharper and usually a more comfortable shaving edge. (There are exceptions with some stones)
Therefore, the value of a stone increases with cutting power and fineness.
The lack of imperfections, the cut, size, patterns and colors bring uniqueness and beauty to a natural stone.
Beauty together with performance, can make a stone more appealing to the user and increase its value.
However, beauty without performance is useless.
is a factor that can impact the life of the stone.
In simple terms, softer stones wear significantly faster than harder stones.
Soft and hard have both pros and cons and it’s only a matter of personal choice.
For example, with a softer stone it can be easier to work for a beginner but it wears faster and the slurry dry quicker. Harder stones can be challenging for beginners but will last much longer and slurry doesn’t dry fast.
A longer lasting stone combined with performance will have a higher value.
In the end, if you choose wisely the hardness, the cutting power and the fineness level, you will have everything necessary to maintain your razors shave ready, for a lifetime.
Having a single quality stone, it can prove to be a lot much cheaper and satisfying than having multiple “cheap” stones.