I think it is half about the material in the steel and how the steel is fabricated, and half about how a knife feels in your own hands.
I own only one "good" knife, it is a Gerber chef that we received for a wedding gift a long time ago. I love that knife, all the other knives I have are cheap crap. The wife (who is so not in to cooking) has suggested that I ought to buy a set of "good" knives. So I have been thinking about knives for a while, but am hesitant because I can't get out of the house and go to a store and try some and see what they feel like in my hand. (I buy everything via the Internet.)
So that is my dilemma right now, not knowing what crafter's knives will feel good in my hand. I really think that is key to being successful with a knife.