Decoding Gems: Gem Mythology of Steven Universe
About a month or two ago, I introduced a friend to the wonderful world of Steven Universe. We sat together, backs against the couch and watched it on a small television across her room. I was squeeing with excitement and singing along as she sat confused about the concept of what a Crystal Gem was. She turned to me and finally asked if the Crystal Gems were actually based on anything. She thought they were made-up names from a far away planet; I really couldn’t blame her. Some of the names for the Gems sounded like they were made up, but I told her they were based on their real crystal counterparts. She responded with: “NO WAY! THERE’S A STONE NAMED SUGILITE?!”
The Crystal Gems in Steven Universe are Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, and they are the protectors of the Earth. They come from Gem Homeworld (except for Amethyst), but after the rebellion, swore to protect Earth from whatever corrupted gems threaten the planet. They are the complete opposite of Homeworld Gems. While they come from the same place as the Crystal Gems, Homeworld Gems have a more malicious intent for the Earth. The Crystal and Homeworld Gems can also fuse their abilities together in a thing they call a Fusion, with really cool, sometimes choreographed, synchronized dance moves.
After a heart-to-heart explanation of these things to her, we proceeded to look up a couple of the crystals for her and it dawned on me that the Gems are actually really close to their real-world counterparts. There’s a lot of mythology surrounding crystals. Most of the lore behind crystals are based off of emotions and feelings and can be heavily associated to the characters of Steven Universe. So, I did a little research for all the Crystal Gems, Homeworld Gems, and Fusions that have been shown so far in Steven Universe to see how closely related they are to the actual crystals they’re named after.
The Crystal Gems
Garnet is the de-facto leader of the Crystal Gems. When Rose Quartz gave up her physical form to save Steven, Garnet stepped up to the plate to be the leader that the Crystal Gems needed, and she’s been killing it ever since. She’s brave, courageous, and full of love for her fellow Crystal Gems, and those are all the qualities associated with the gem itself as well. Garnet is formed from the love of Ruby and Sapphire, two of the Crystal Gems who took their love for each other to a new level when they decided to stay fused, giving them the ability to be durable and strong like the actual gemstone. Garnet stones are heavily associated with love, bravery, and strength, all of which Garnet herself possesses and more. Garnet’s outfit heavily resembles the stone. Since Ruby and Sapphire come together to create the fusion, their colors intertwine to create the colors in Garnet’s outfit. It is primarily based off another form of garnet named Pyrope, which is a really cool mixture of a ruby-red and a purple palette. Both of Garnet’s crystals can be found in the palms of her hands.
Ruby is one half of Garnet and a member of the Crystal Gems. She was unfused before her relationship with Sapphire, but when their romantic relationship started to progress, they wanted to be together forever in a complete Fusion, which is Garnet. Ruby is emotional and slightly volatile, but with her courage and sheer strength, she makes up the half of Garnet that Sapphire completes with her personality. Her character is made up of strength and passion, not only for Sapphire, but for her friends as well. Her emotions can get the better of her because of that passion, and that closely relates to the gem she is associated with. Ruby’s outfit is very much associated with her gem, playing on the different types of reds that ruby gems can be: dark red for her hair, light red-purple for her shirt, dark red for her pants, and her skin is the exact vivid ruby red that comes with the stone. Ruby’s crystal is on her left hand just where Garnet’s is as well.
Sapphire is the other half of Garnet and another important part of the Crystal Gems. Sapphire seems to be the most level-headed of the Crystal Gems. You can see that in the episode “Jailbreak”—while Ruby is freaking out and trying to break free to get to her, Sapphire presses her hands together and sings to let Ruby know where she is. Her gem itself is closely related to sincerity and wisdom. She is the source of Garnet’s future vision, since her gem also has association with precognition skills. While Ruby’s crystal is on her left hand, Sapphire’s is on her right. Sapphire’s outfit resembles the stone in a lot of ways. It plays off the different type of light to dark blues that Ruby’s has with the reds.
Pearl is the perfectionist of the Crystal Gems. She’s very precise, organized, and can not have chaos forming around her, which is why it’s so hard for her to get along with Amethyst. She is very controlled, but being on Earth has made Pearl explore some of the emotions that she’s never had to really deal with, especially when it comes to protecting Steven and her fellow Crystal Gems. Pearls are associated with beauty, modesty, and a sense of purity. For example, some pearls are used to make purity rings, for girls and boys to wear to show that they plan to abstain from sex until marriage. Pearl, like her gem, is the embodiment of those qualities. It also lines up with Pearl’s abilities, especially her ballerina stance which shows the modest and pure side of Pearl. Pearls also come in a variety of colors such as green, white, pink and cream, and that’s that what we see in Pearl’s overall appearance. Her outfit seems to represent the different colors that a pearl can take overall, while being functional and practical for her to battle in. Her crystal is placed on the top of her head.
Amethyst is the most rambunctious and chaotic of the Crystal Gems. She’s very sporadic and spontaneous, living her life to the fullest whenever she can and carrying a lot of emotions with her. Amethyst is very self-indulgent, impulsive, and reckless. She carries the weight of her past on her shoulders (being born in Kindergarten really messed her up a bit), but at the end of the day, besides Steven, she’s the most fun Crystal Gem. Amethyst carries a lot of her gem’s attributes, but is somewhat the opposite of them too. While Amethyst can be self-indulgent, amethyst symbolizes protection and is used for healing people. The way Amethyst herself, even in her selfish ways, protects the people she loves is amazing. She’ll protect them emotionally and physically even if her emotions and self are hurt in the process. Amethyst the stone is also used for emotional stability and inner strength, which Amethyst is slowly coming into as a Crystal Gem. She carries her crystal on her chest. Her fashion is especially reflected in her outfit—she is given violet and dark purple tones to fit with the stone in itself that ranges in the same colors. Rebecca Sugar has also stated that Amethyst’s character color was based off of Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time.
Lapis Lazuli: my precious gem. Lapis is one of the first Homeworld Gems we meet, introduced in the episode “The Mirror.” She is a broken gem, trapped inside of a mirror wanting to break out and just wanting to go home. Normally sweet and friendly, Lapis doesn’t like the Crystal Gems very much, because she thinks they care more about the Earth than where they’re from. The rock she is named for is considered a stone of friendship. That can be seen through Lapis’ relationship with Steven, who she is very friendly towards. The stone is also associated with psychic powers and intuition. Lapis has very powerful mental capabilities and with her Gem being cracked in “The Mirror” her abilities were going just as mental. She uses her psychic powers to manipulate and control water around her. Lapis’ crystal is found on her back and looks like either a teardrop or a drop of the ocean. Lapis also very much resembles her gem in the light and dark blue colors that she wears. The dark blue hair and dress are on the top of the lapis while the bottom is her skin color.
Peridot is another Homeworld Gem. We meet her in “Warp Tour” and you’re not really sure how to feel about her once she shows up. Peridot has a very cold personality, completely getting down to business, and she doesn’t want to waste any time. Peridot is also a technology-based Gem, which we don’t have in this Universe. She handles everything through interface technology and gets easily angry when she doesn’t understand things or they don’t go her way. Her gem can be closely linked to success and is considered useful to lessen stress and help find what is lost. The crystal can be found on her head like Pearl’s; they both are centered on knowledge. Peridot only occurs in one solid color, which is green, so her overall appearance is spot on. From her light green skin, dark green outfit, and very light green eyes, they closely resembles all the different shades of green that the peridot gem can take.
Jasper is a horrible person. There I said it. Jasper comes to us in the episode “The Return” and being a horrible Gem is the least of her problems. She is almost the de-facto leader of the Homeworld Gems since she orders everyone around, but her real orders come from Yellow Diamond (who we sadly haven’t seen yet). Jasper is very cruel and venomous in her personality, talking down to Peridot and Lapis, who are on the journey with her (see why she’s horrible). Her stone represents the complete opposite of what she is and is placed directly on her nose. It’s said that the jasper is a nurturing stone with other elements such as protection and relaxation, but our Gem has close to none of those positive features. Jasper’s appearance comes in one of the popular colors for jasper stones. The orange jasper almost represents how much angry and cruelty she has, especially the stripes across her face and down her arms, since she is always ready to prove how strong she is to someone.
Although they are the complete opposite of one another, Amethyst and Pearl create this stunning fusion named Opal. She is as majestic and precise as Pearl yet carries the strength of Amethyst. She is protective towards Steven and even sang back to him when she finally saw her turn into a Giant Woman. Opal is a gem that represents inspiration, and is said to help enhance memory, creativity, and decrease confusion. It’s kind of ironic that it enhances memory, since Amethyst and Pearl become distracted and confused whenever they forget to do something. Opal also closely resembles her counter crystal. Opal comes in many different colors, but relying on the colors between Pearl and Amethyst, Opal seems to resemble the white opal the best. She has some of the same qualities, including her blue eyes, violet skin tone, and white colored hair. Her outfit resembles the opal gem from it’s green textured dress that’s also seen in the stone.
Sugilite is another massive fusion that brings together Garnet and Amethyst. Sugilite is introduced in the episode “Coach Steven” and due to her massive size and strength, Steven immediately takes a shine to her. Although Steven likes her, Sugilite isn’t welcomed by Pearl. She knows that between Garnet’s independence and Amethyst’s chaos, she won’t do anyone any good. Sugilite hates being told what to do, a magnified trait from both of their personalities (especially Amethyst). The crystal is said to be associated with the third eye chakra, meaning it can provide insight. We get a visual representation of this with Sugilite’s third eye on top of her head, but also representing Garnet’s eyes as well. Sugilite is also often associated with self-awareness, identity, and protecting oneself from harsh realities. Sugilite, like Malachite, is a Fusion that is very hard to unfuse because of the massive power source. It is so far deep into its identity as the Fusion that it’s hard to get them unfused. Sugilite has many different colors, but it takes after the purple crystal the best. Amethyst’s light purple and Garnet’s reddish-purple outfits really come together in this dark purple outfit as a whole. It matches the red-purplish and pinkish tone of the crystal overall.
Alexandrite is the most massive fusion on the show and as Steven and Connie call her, “…a six-armed…giant woman.” She is made up of Garnet (Ruby and Sapphire), Pearl, and Amethyst to provide Steven with one whole “mother” instead of three for a dinner with Connie’s parents. Things don’t turn out as planned, because of the Fusion’s inability to stay stable throughout the dinner. The stone that Alexandrite is based off of is a BEAUTIFUL color changing stone and connected with self-control. However, the Fusion showed very poor self-control when they were at the dinner, but the four of them working together in the beginning laid the ground so that the Fusion could work. Alexandrite comes in many different colors, but our gem closely resembles the color of the stone above. It is wrapped in layers of colors and carries the colors of green, purple, red from the mixtures of the gems.
Malachite is the first Fusion that we see between two Homeworld Gems, and she’s pretty massive. She’s also absolutely horrifying. Malachite is the fusion between Jasper and Lapis Lazuli. Lapis agreed to fuse with Jasper only to trap her in return and keep them at the bottom of the ocean, yet in season two, we see the giant form taking over Lapis’ personality and keeping herself as Malachite. The fused Homeworld Gem is very unstable in the first place. The combination of Jasper’s cruelty with Lapis’ playful yet sad demeanor causes chaos in that body. Malachite crystal is closely associated with taking risks and demanding respect, two of the things that Lapis Lazuli and Jasper do. The malachite crystal comes only in green that heavily resembles the Fusion throughout her form, from the dark and light green features along her body. When malachite is submerged in water, it can become very toxic. Someone should drain Beach City.
Rainbow Quartz is seen only briefly during the episode “We Need to Talk” and is the fusion of Pearl and Rose Quartz. During Greg’s music video for his song “What Can I Do For You?” Pearl sits on the sidelines, jealous of the attention that Greg is getting from Rose Quartz. She walks up to her and has the idea to form Rainbow Quartz to liven things up in his video, but also to prove a bit of a point. This crystal is related to optimism, which is seen in Pearl and Rose Quartz wanting to fuse together. The crystal also comes in a variety of colors, ranging from a more colorful palette of purple, blues, pinks, greens, and more, but the one that closely resembles Rainbow Quartz is the one above. Her colors are a striking combination between Pearl and Rose Quartz. The pink streaks within Rainbow Quartz’s hair mixing the colors of Pearls pink hair with Rose’s, the gym outfit that resembles the regeneration out of Pearl in “We Need To Talk,” and her facial features resemble Rose Quartz. It’s a bit sad that we won’t ever be able to see Rainbow Quartz again.
Our very new fusion comes in the form of Sardonyx. The fantastic and yet theatrical Sardonyx comes from the fusion of Garnet and Pearl. Sardonyx is a powerful Gem. She is very dramatic and needs a bit of an audience to get her jokes across. She’s not very humble about it either, but she combines both Pearl’s need for performance and hyperactivity with Garnet’s accuracy and quick thinking. Sardonyx is an agate gem, meaning that it exhibits a couple of different colors. For Sardonyx, we can see that her skin is a reddish tint with white, black, and grey tuxedo (that adds to her comedic and theatrical nature), which is very similar to the orange Sardonyx gem itself. The gemstone can be found in different colors as well, including green, red, and purple. Her gem is related to strength and protection, which could contribute to how Pearl could feel stronger when she’s fused with Garnet. Sardonyx’s gems are placed on her forehead and both of her top hands.