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It seems that all the unique goblin-made items (armor and jewelry) currently in posession of the wizards are all old and passed on as heirloom within the old families.

Do we have an example of new, custom goblin-made items? And if not, why is that? Is it because of the property dispute over such items? Are the goblins even capable of making items of similar quality to the sword of Gryffindor / Ragnuk nowadays?

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Form what I can tell in the books, the goblins weren't very happy about their fine craftsmanship being used by humans--their idea of the sale of a sword was that it was rented to that wizard for his lifetime, and was not to be passed down to his relatives. The fact that many ancient families appear to have disregarded this goblin social norm and passed on these artefacts in their wills appears to have engendered a sense of distrust in the goblins, and, in part, contributed to the strained human-goblin relationships we see in the series. this mistrust would probably have led to the secrets of goblin craftsmanship being more closely guarded, so that they wouldn't be "stolen" as many of the artefacts had been (at least in the goblins' minds) when they were passed along as inheritance. This way, those who could make such fine artefacts would keep them with goblins, and carefully guard the methods they used to fashion them.

This is not to mention the fact that much of the goblin economy appears to rely on their ability to create and evaluate such objects. If these secrets were widely known by most goblins, then they would quickly pass into human hands, and the main area of prominence for goblins would be overcome with wizards who already knew their secrets, making goblins effectively useless. And nothing good happens to apparently "useless" races in the wizarding world, or the muggle one for that matter. So, to keep their position in their own world open, it would make sense that goblins would jealously guard the secrets of making such swords and armour, if only to preserve the dignity and social position of their race.

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  • That's a good analysis and agrees with my impression. I hope we'll hear more about goblins (and elves) in the upcoming movies, and not just as the anti-semitic stereotype came alive goblins-bankers...
    – user68762
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 8:43
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Do we have an example of new, custom goblin-made items?

Yes. Chapter 20 of Order of the Phoenix mentions a goblin-made helmet given as a gift from Dumbledore to the Gurg of the Giants:

... "an' the followin' mornin' we went back an' this time we found Karkus sittin' up waitin' fer us lookin' all eager."

"And you talked to him?"

"Oh yeah. Firs' we presented him with a nice battle helmet - goblin made an' indestructible, yeh know - an' then we sat down an' we talked."

Unless Dumbledore just happened to have inherited a goblin-made helmet, sized for a giant, this was presumably a new commission.

There is also this quote from Deathly Hallows, indicating that the goblins still possess unique skills in metal-crafting:

"Well, goblins can do magic without wands," said Ron.

"That is immaterial! Wizards refuse to share the secrets of wandlore with other magical beings, they deny us the possibility of extending our powers!"

"Well, goblins won't share any of their magic, either," said Ron. "You won't tell us how to make swords and armour the way you do. Goblins know how to work metal in a way wizards have never -"

"It doesn't matter," said Harry, noting Griphook's rising colour.

That doesn't necessarily mean that you could commission another Sword of Gryffindor, of course; as Valorum pointed out in the comments, Older Is Better, but the goblins certainly still have at least some secrets.

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  • Good finds both. Yes, it's indeed a possibility that the helmet was ordered by Dumbledore. Could also be a heirloom of mme Maximes she contributed to the mission or D got it through his connections. About Ron's opinion it proves that the G-W relations strained and both sides withhold info. Unfortunately it is still unclear whether goblin craftsmanship had detoriated or progressed over the ages
    – user68762
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 8:41

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