I bought this and Unimi's 600/1000 whetstone at the same time. Curiously, reviews are currently blocked for their 600/1000 model, as amazon wouldn't let me leave one for it. Considering the conspicuous absence of reviews in the other stone's listing, one can only assume they're being censored for everyone. So, maybe I should be more critical of these stones, and use them a while longer before giving them any praise? But I've had a very positive experience with them so far, and the 600/1000 stone was the one I found most useful.
It is better to understand the difference in sharpening stone materials before you are going to make any decision. Among the available options in the market today, Waterstone, oilstone and diamond stone are the most common type of sharpening stone. Each of stones comes with advantages and disadvantages. Waterstone and oilstone are available in natural and synthetic models. Synthetic are the most common and easy to find as man makes them. As the use of natural stones (e.g. original Arkansas or Japanese natural whetstones) is has diminished in popularity, they are beginning to rare in the market. Artificial stones have a more consistent particle size and controlled with a tight mechanism in providing high-quality sharpening stone.
Mine came plain white then started to darken after a few weeks. About 4 weeks in it settled to a more natural stone/slate grey. The leather has darkened a bit too and remains soft and comfortable. The leather remains easy to adjust and my selected sizings stays in place firmly. Overall It feels, looks and works great. The knot and darker stone/leather compliment each other well.
Steeling helps maintain sharpness. This process realigns the edge, correcting for dulling causes such as a rolled edge. A sharpening steel is a type of hardened cylindrical rod used similarly to honing stones. For example, a butcher steel is a round file with the teeth running the long way, while a packer steel (used in the meat packer's industry) is a smooth, polished steel rod designed for straightening the turned edge of a knife, and is also useful for burnishing a newly finished edge. Because steels have a small diameter they exert high local pressure, and therefore affect the knife metal when used with very little force. They are intended for mild steel knives that are steeled several times a day, but are not well suited for today's tougher and harder blade steels. Diamond steels are now available that have an industrial diamond coating and can remove blade metal as well as straighten, therefore used correctly they can re-profile a knife instead of just honing.
Once you’ve decided to start sharpening your kitchen knives with a sharpening stone, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to actually get going. These steps include finding and buying the best sharpening stone for use at home, learning the basic technique involved in doing the sharpening, and then practicing enough times to get it right. (For the sake of the knives, we don’t recommend using your best kitchen knives for practice!)