Character Profiles: The Diamonds in 'Steven Universe'
Who are the Diamonds? Their Story
Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Season 5 of Steven Universe + Steven Universe: The Movie
The Diamonds are set up in Steven Universe as the arch antagonists. Because of them, the Crystal Gems remain on Earth and can never return to their homeworld. Also because of them, many gems were corrupted, changed into monstrous versions of themselves, unable to be changed back, even with Steven's healing powers.
But, in the beginning of the show, the earth-dwelling Crystal Gems don't have a lot of direct contact with the Diamonds. Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst blocked contact with them and their followers, by destroying magical warp pads that connect Earth to the gem homeworld where the Diamonds live.
We gradually learn that there are three of them; Yellow Diamond, White Diamond, and Blue Diamond. There was a fourth, Pink, who was shattered during the war on Earth. But initially, we only see Yellow Diamond, when her Peridot, sent to Earth to repair the warps, joins the Crystal Gems. In later episodes, we see Blue Diamond, who is still depressed about the shattering of Pink Diamond. Earth was Pink Diamond's colony, and it was revealed that Rose Quartz was the one who shattered Pink Diamond in order to liberate the planet. When Steven finds out about this, he is understandably upset. White Diamond remains a mystery.
Steven turned himself in to protect the other Crystal Gems. His goal is to admit he is Rose Quartz and that Rose shattered Pink Diamond. But during a trial before Blue and Yellow Diamond, it is revealed that that doesn't add up. The lawyers ask where were Pink Diamond's guards and other staff, where was her Pearl (servant class of gem), and Steven cannot remember the details. He has Rose's gem, but not her memories.
Everything changes when it is revealed that Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond in disguise all along, and that she staged her own shattering. As a Diamond, Pink was unable to liberate Earth, because the other Diamonds would not listen to her. This led to her assuming the role of rebel leader Rose Quartz, fighting a war, and faking her own death.
Steven goes to home-world with the Crystal Gems and his girlfriend Connie, hoping to stop the Diamonds from threatening Earth. He also wants to get their help in healing gems that were corrupted during the gem war. These gems have been turned into monsters. Steven had limited success connecting with the mind of one of them, so he knows they're not completely gone. But he can't heal them on his own, either.
Pearl and others help him resume his role as Pink Diamond, and he hopes that throwing a ball will allow him to talk to the other Diamonds. But the ball is unproductive, and White Diamond doesn't show up at all. Yellow and Blue seem happy to have Pink back, in some form, but they're too busy to talk to Steven.
Fusing with Connie at the ball gets their attention, and Blue essentially grounds Steven and Connie in Pink's room. Steven has flashback memories that surface about how Pink Diamond was treated like a child by the other Diamonds before, and never taken seriously. The others ran colonies across space, and were always busy with them.
Eventually, Steven and the Crystal Gems end up confronting White Diamond. Steven is able to resist her power and convince her that she was wrong. White Diamond was obsessed with perfection, but didn't realize her own empire was far from perfect. This obsession with perfection caused her to repress her own emotions, implying that the other diamonds were created by White purging herself of their 'colors' and the emotions they represent; sadness, anger, and love.
In the Steven Universe movie, the Diamonds have changed considerably for Steven, and they have helped heal the corrupted gems. It seems like they're pretty desperate just to have Pink Diamond back as their younger sister/child, even if he is in a new body.
From these events, we get a rough, but incomplete, picture of the Diamonds' personalities.
Blue Diamond represents sadness and grief. She has the ability to make other gems cry. She runs colonies, but not as many as Yellow. She seems to be the one closest to Pink in Steven's flashback memories. She is the one who encourages Pink to stay the course during Earth's rebellion. But this encouragement might have led her to fake her own death, because Blue says, "As long as you are there to rule," everything will work out, and the colonization of Earth will move forward.
Garnet was formed on Earth, when a Ruby fused with a Sapphire belonging to Blue Diamond's court. Garnet fled Blue's attempt to shatter her, joining Rose and Pearl in the rebellion.
Yellow Diamond represents anger, passion, and militarism. She is the one more concerned with battles and strategy. She has created the most successful gem colonies, all out of her desire for the approval of White Diamond, who never gives her any attention. In flashbacks and in the present, Yellow was often too busy to deal with Pink Diamond's problems personally, so a lot of it was left up to Blue.
Peridot was originally working for Yellow Diamond to repair the warp pads on Earth, before changing allegiance to the Crystal Gems.
Pink Diamond represents love, joy, fun, and the innocence of childhood. Originally it seemed that the other Diamonds treated her like a plaything or jester, someone who existed for their amusement. But eventually, she grew tired of being treated this way, and wanted more respect. Therefore, she asked for her own colony to run. This was supposed to signify her growing up.
But on Earth, she came to love organic life so much that she could not bear to destroy it. But the other Diamonds insisted that she move forward with building the colony, even if it will destroy all non-gem life on the planet. To avoid having to do this, she took on the guise of Rose Quartz, and only her Pearl knew the two were one in the same.
After faking her own death, Pink remains on Earth with Rose permanently, leading the surviving remnants of the Crystal gems, after losing most of them to war. Eventually, Rose meets Greg Universe and the two have a relationship. But this ends when Rose becomes enamored with the way humans are able to grow up. She gives up her physical form to become her own baby, Steven. Over time, Steven gains her powers and abilities, and some, but not all, of her memories.
Pink Diamond's main power is healing, which also allows her to bring the dead to life. Rose had done this to a lion, and Steven did it to save his friend Lars. These "pink zombies" have powers that are not clearly explained, but they include having another dimension inside their hair/lion's mane.
Rose originally had Spinel as a companion, but she abandoned Spinel in the garden they played in. Spinel stayed there patiently for millennia, waiting for Pink's return. Then she became the villain of the movie, seeking revenge on Steven for what Pink Diamond did to her, when she found out that Pink was dead and replaced with Steven.
White Diamond is the most mysterious gem, representing stoicism, serenity, perfection, and rationality. She is obsessed with creating a perfect gem empire that spreads across the universe. She put in place rules and structure for gems to follow, and is ruthlessly punitive to gems who step out of line. She also shatters gems who are "off color" or flawed in some way. Her vision for a perfect society entails a rigid gem caste system. Gems are expected to perform specific roles based on their gem species, and doing anything outside that programming is forbidden.
White Diamond's main power is mind control. She can directly control other gems, but usually only controls her Pearl, preferring not to spread herself too thin. When under her control, gems' personalities are erased and their voices are only echoes of White's voice. Thus, she represents how narcissistic cult leaders and tyrants control people, remaking them in their image.
There is fan speculation that Pearl in the show was originally White Diamond's Pearl, but that has not been confirmed.
When the Diamonds Change
The fact that the diamonds seem to quickly change from evil to good is a point of contention among fans and observers of the show. My view is that the Diamonds don't change a whole lot, and it does not come out of nowhere. Yellow and Blue were working through a lot of pent-up anger and sadness respectively. It was only Pink coming back to them in the form of Steven that encouraged them to stand up to White Diamond, which was probably something they'd wanted to do for thousands of years. They just hadn't been united against her and hadn't had the courage to stand up to her. With three Diamonds, and the formidable Crystal Gems, united as one against her, White had to make some concessions, so it becomes reasonable to see why she changed too, especially when faced with the fact that she could not control Steven with her power, but he could affect her emotions with his powers.
The Diamonds are initially set in their ways. Each diamond goes through a process of change.
Pink Diamond's Change:
The way Pink treated Spinel in the movie shows that originally, Pink Diamond had the same attitude towards "lesser" gems as other Diamonds. She saw Spinel as not really a person at all, but more of a toy or a device, an object she could abandon when she got bored.
Pink Diamond was the first among the diamonds to change her view, respecting non-gem life, when the others saw it as of no value. She developed more sympathy for odd gems, or gems lower in the hierarchy. She wanted to protect the Earth, especially humans, who she came to love. But Pink was not able to convince the others to think like her. She eventually hid in disguise as Rose Quartz. As Rose, she launched a rebellion against herself, and ended up faking her own death.
Blue Diamond's Change:
Blue Diamond is the second Diamond to change her mind. Steven convinces her that she was making Pink miserable. Blue begins to question why she must enforce White Diamond's rules if that results in so much sadness. It was easy for Steven to change Blue's mind because she was already heart-broken by her grief over losing Pink Diamond. She was perhaps the most attached to Pink, and was saddest about losing her. Blue kept a human zoo alive because of her respect for Pink. Yellow tries to convince her to forget Pink and move on, but she can't seem to do that. That's why she's the happiest to find out Steven is really Pink, so that Pink is not really dead.
Yellow Diamond's Change:
Yellow's change comes harder, because Yellow is so focused on building and managing colonies, and so needy for White's approval. But Yellow Diamond is convinced that their empire needs to change by Blue and Steven. She has run herself ragged with the colonies, and realizes that there's no point to it all.
Of course, White Diamond is the hardest to change, and yet it seems to many fans of the series like it was too easy. For millennia, White was not only insistent about her rules being followed, but she was very aloof, rarely coming out of her room. The other Diamonds seemed to want her approval and to be like her, but she was dismissive towards everyone who was not herself. Even in Pink Diamond's past, it seemed that Pink never got very much personal interaction with White, mostly talking only to Yellow and Blue. However, White Diamond assisted Yellow and Blue in creating the corruption wave that corrupted many remaining gems on Earth during the end of the war.
White Diamond's Change:
White Diamond is changed by Steven realizing the full potential of his power. That is, each Diamond has some ability to psychologically influence others. With Pink, it's about spreading happiness, encouragement, and joy. When Steven talks back to White, he makes her laugh, and makes her blush pink. This helps her realize she's not so perfect, because she can be influenced by someone else.
Let's be clear, she doesn't change very much. She goes from thinking Steven is really Pink Diamond to accepting his new identity as Steven. She becomes perhaps a little less draconian, but only because Steven is using his powers to influence her feelings. The movie shows her as having to work really hard to see other beings as equal, not lesser, than herself. She does it because she loves Pink Diamond/ Steven, as do the other Diamonds. It is not out of a sudden genuine desire to do good. But it's a start towards progress, and the series/movie shows that there will be peace between gems and humans in the future.
What We Don't Know About the Diamonds (As of The End of Season 5 + The Movie)
Because the diamonds are not actively present in the beginning of the show, which focuses more on events on Earth, there is a lot we don't know about them. Steven doesn't perfectly remember everything about being Pink Diamond.
What/Who Creates Diamonds?
That's the biggest question about the diamonds. It is implied that their sweat is collected when they bathe, and this sweat is injected into the ground to create new gems. Gems emerge from the Earth fully formed and fully adult-minded, knowing what they are and what their primary function is, much like a computer. But if Diamond sweat injected underground creates lesser gems, the question remains - who or what created the Diamonds? It's likely that White Diamond created Yellow, Pink, and Blue, as she said, to get rid of colors inside her she considered flaws. She doesn't like socializing with them because she sees them as parts of herself she got rid of in order to be happy and perfect. But the question remains, who then created White Diamond? How did they do that? And did that person create other Diamonds in other galaxies? Another origin question is how old the diamonds are. Yellow and Blue seem older than Pink, who is treated as a child by all three. But how old are they? They don't age, and are either immortal or extremely long-lived compared to a human. So we don't know a lot about when they were created and in what circumstances.
What Made Homeworld the Way it Is?
The origin of homeworld, it's rules, customs, and flaws is not completely shown in the show, mainly only hinted at. When Steven gets there, homeworld feels totalitarian and oppressive. Yet, many gems on an individual level seem to be happy there. They like having a clearly defined place in society, and a clearly defined job to do. But, there are many "off color" or flawed gems who live in the shadows, hiding from robots who could shatter them at any minute. Why is that? Why are "off color" and unauthorized cross-species fusions forbidden? Why is homeworld cracked?
Why Did the Diamonds Build Colonies?
Was there ever a reason for the colonies? The intense push to keep colonizing more planets and creating more gem soldiers? If there was a good reason to be so fervent to colonize many other worlds, why was it easy for Yellow Diamond to liberate her colonies later?
Are the Diamonds fighting some external threat, not yet introduced to the show? That would explain why they needed to focus so much attention on the production of mainly additional quartz soldiers. But it doesn't explain why, when Steven gets the Diamonds to change their minds and see the negative side of colonization, they're able to stop colonizing without that outside threatening force attacking them. And if they lacked an external threat, the question becomes, why did they colonize other planets in the first place? The song "What's the Use of Feeling (Blue)" seems to indicate that Yellow Diamond used to think it was quite urgent to build armies, fight wars, and lead the effort to colonize worlds. So why then is it no longer as urgent later on?
Why Create Other Gems at All?
To be fair, this is a problem for any story that involves a sentient being creating less important, less powerful sentient beings. Why? It's probable that White Diamond had to create the other Diamonds by releasing emotions she considered imperfections from herself. Yet why would those excreted emotions need to become sentient beings? And why would they need to, want to, or be commanded to keep creating more gems?
There are many things we don't know about the Diamonds, and many of these questions, and other questions fans have, may never be answered in the show. One issue is the show focuses entirely on Earth, the Crystal Gems, humans, and Steven. Homeworld and the Diamonds only matter to the extent that they affect those. But, I would definitely like to see a Diamond-focused spinoff series exploring the origins of homeworld and the earliest gem colonies. It won't happen but it's nice to fantasize about.
© 2019 Rachael Lefler