The Belgian coticules have been used by barbers for several hundred years. They’re great stones, especially for straight razors, but developments over the past five years have led to a lot of confusion in the marketplace. When I first introduced these stones into the US market some 15 years ago, there were Select grade and Euro grade stones. The “kosher” stones were so rare that I’ll talk about them later on. Today, there are a number of choices each with their own French name such as La Veinette, La Latteneuse, etc. and they each have their own price point. They’re not all equal as far as honing is concerned.
The stones we sell are all Select grade stones. These are the best of the best and I pay more for them. Why? It’s because discerning customers prefer them. The last thing I want is for someone to buy something from me that they are not happy with and either want to return or sell on eBay.
So, what’s the difference? The Belgians will tell you there’s little to no difference but that hasn’t been my experience. I’ve seen and handled a LOT of coticules over the years. The Select grade is more what I’d call Specimen Grade – thicker coticule, more even end to end, no hairline cracks or veins, etc. The result is a better stone to hone your tools with and you’ll be happier with it. As a coticule will last two or three generations, the small additional cost is really . . . small.