Some of you may know Turbines other MMORPG: LotRo. There you can find Lailas Market, an ingame cosmetic shop which uses mithral-coins (their "special" currency) for purchasing cosmetic items.

So my suggestion is: adapt that concept to DDO: Create an ingame cosmetic store where you can preview and buy cosmetic Amors, helmets and so on for shards. Shards can be aquired by everyone if you only put some work into it, even if you are a f2player and a shop like this would give the shards an additional significance.

greets, Almariel