I used to have knives sharpened professionally, but was never happy with the results. My main knives, Wusthof Trident "Culinaire," had razor sharp blades originally. Now, even when I sharpen them myself, the resulting edge must be "sawed" to cut through grapefruit membranes.
The conclusion is that typical paring knives only have five to seven years in them. Christmas was time to replace them.
Did anyone ever sell Cutco knives to you or your mom? Because of the sales method (college students going door to door), you may have assumed it was crappy and cheap cutlery. I did, even when my own hard-working brother sold it. But 20 years later, everyone who bought from him still seems pretty happy with their Cutco knives. That's four times longer than five to seven years.
For Christmas I received a Cutco cheese knife and paring knife. General consensus is that the steel is harder than Wusthof and will hold an edge longer.
In search of negative opinions of the Cutco, mostly what turned up was objections to the door-to-door sales method and the price. As with any knives, the handles and the weight aren't comfortable in everyone's hand. Knives are like coffee that way -- tastes are very personal, very individual.
There are a lot of knives in my kitchen, but I'm not a knife collector, a knife freak, and especially not a knife snob. So far, I'm thrilled with tthe Cutco. The cheese knife sank through a hard block of aged cheddar as if it were peanut butter. And the paring knife is actually too sharp -- if it touches skin, it cuts. So it will be a learning process -- re-learning how to use a super sharp knife.