This was brought up previously by Silas - http://forums.achaea.com/discussion/140/artefact-alternatives
- then closed, and not listed, on the grounds that "a rework of the artifact system is already on the cards". Tecton has stated that the in-game upgrade and customisation system WAS that rework of the artefact system (despite previous comments), and that didn't address this at all. Can we take a second look at this, please?
There are a few suggestions in the linked thread, and I have some of my own which I'll mention below. Hopefully other people will have suggestions they'd like to see as well.
Vestments of the Magi in place of Robes of the Magi, though you could also do most (if not all) of the clothing types sold in the "Robes and dresses" bin in The Tailors Union Headquarters.
Boots of Dashing. There are no good boot artefacts currently - dexterity is nowhere near worth the price, and the buckawn's amulet doesn't have the downsides that the boots do - and anklets are pretty meh.
Various instrument options for the Lasallian Lyre. I'm not sure exactly what the options for Bards are, but they'd probably be good choices.