One of the goals devs had for Artifacts in CK3 was to ensure that the artifacts your rulers acquire will feel truly distinct from another. No longer will you have a royal treasury filled with identical swords, but many distinct ones.
All Artifacts in the game can have a set of Features that determine both how they were created as well as what they were made from. For example, ‘Oak’, ‘Ash’, and ‘Pine’ are all features of the ‘Wood’ type, which is used to make wooden furniture, spear shafts, book covers, while ‘Engraved’, ‘Filigreed’, and ‘Painted’ are ‘Decoration’-type features which skilled craftspeople can use to decorate artifacts to make them more suitable for royalty.
The main use of Features is to create immersive descriptions for the artifact. Whenever a new artifact is created, such as from an Inspiration, it will gain a set of appropriate Features based on various factors including culture, geography, craftsmanship quality, the wealth of the capital city, and event decisions made during the creation process.
These Features are then used by the artifact’s description to emphasize any distinctive characteristics that it has! Note that these Features will not be represented in the 2D and 3D art of the Artifact, as there are far more varieties of Feature than one could reasonably produce art for.
This means Artifacts that you loot from your defeated foes while on crusade or during overseas raids will be far more distinct from other Artifacts in your treasury, serving as a memento of the great distances you or your ancestors traveled on their journeys, as artifacts are based on the culture they come from as well.
Of course, there are many types of Artifacts apart from weapons, and some of the material and craftsmanship differences become truly pronounced when you start looking at the type of Artifacts that are created explicitly for rulers to show off with! For example, a crown crafted in Afghanistan might feature pieces of its legendary lapis lazuli, while one made in the Baltic region could instead feature an impressive chunk of amber as a centerpiece.