I don't think anyone out there loves Gem-Knights as much as I do. Ask any of my co-workers here at TCGplayer or anyone at my locals; NO ONE can come even close! Way back when I first began writing Behind the Cards in August of 2012, my second article I wrote was about the Gem-Knights, and today I want to go back to update and redo that discussion. The difference this time? I've actually graduated from the Canadian Gemmological Association in Toronto (the CGA).

After a strange twist of events, my love of Yu-Gi-Oh! is what actually brought me to my new career as a certified gemmologist. It was my interest in the Gem-Knights that brought me to where I am now and inspired me to take up work in the fascinating world of gemstones. What does a gemmologist do you ask? We essentially study and analyze gemstones, deciphering the differences between similar looking stones, synthetics, imitations, and enhancements. We study how gemstones form, research their chemical composition, and determine which stones are which.

Today's article will delve into the fascinating world of gemmology and how it ties into the lore and design of the Gem-Knights, which are some of the most accurately depicted cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. You'll learn all about the difference between glass, amorphous, and organic gemstones, and what the word "crystal" truly means, as well as what determined the attributes of the Gem-Knights and why they do what they do. This article will be broken up into a few separate parts because of the volume of information I want to provide you. Think of this as your Gem-Knight primer; if you like Gem-Knights or are learning about them for the first time, enjoy.

Normally I don't watch the Yu-Gi-Oh! animated series, but since the introduction of the character Masumi Kotsu and her use of the Gem-Knights (few and far between), I'll tune in every once in a while just to watch her plays. I'm glad to see that the new animated series is touching on old monster themes: it's the best gimmick I've ever seen a Yu-Gi-Oh! series do. Not only does it sell product, it also makes us old-timers nostalgic and keeps the different forms of summoning fresh and relevant to the brand. It's pretty brilliant.

Crystal Knight Breaking Glass Dolls
People ask me this all the time, "what's the difference between glass and crystal?" The word crystal is derived from the greek word krystalos, meaning ice. It became an umbrella term for anything that had the clarity and transparency of ice regardless of color. The confusion between true crystalline material and glass is very common in today's market – in fact, I can name quite a few companies who improperly label their products as 'crystal' instead of glass, so consumers beware!

To tell the difference between something that's crystal or glass you have to look at it on the atomic level. True crystal has an atomic structure with an orderly arrangement of atoms. That's why you see gemstones taken right from the earth with geometric shapes or patterns. Gemstones and geometry go hand in hand. Glass is known as an 'amorphous' material, which is any material whose atoms are positioned randomly throughout its structure. There are gemstone materials that are amorphous, including jet, amber and tektites (natural glasses: obsidian). They're still considered gemstones but aren't considered crystals. Glasses are used to imitate natural gemstones and are often sold as legitimate natural gemstones to unsuspecting customers. One of the new El Shaddoll monsters arriving in November is a prime example of this.


I'm referring to El Shaddoll Grysta. Look closely at El Shaddoll Grysta and you'll notice that its transparent form houses the pieces of a marionette, much like the other El Shaddoll monsters, and the rounded 'cores' of color. These could be the essences used by the Gem-Knights to power their cores. I'm under the firm belief that this monster's name is a pun on glass and crystal and there's quite a bit of evidence to confirm that theory. If you break down the name 'Grysta' you can create 'glass' ('l' and 'r' are interchangeable in japan phonetics) and 'crystal'.

It also makes a mockery of the original host's name, Gem-Knight Crystal. Glass has been used as a cheap imitation and enhancement in the world of gemstones since mankind desired gemstones. It's used to replace and fill damaged areas in gemstones, is colored and faceted to look similar to gemstone material. and even used to cover up gemstones and make them more presentable. Grysta's ATK and DEF are identical to Gem-Knight Crystal and Cairngorgon, the Antiluminescent Warrior's. Its suit of armor (and body) are discarded and replaced by a translucent outer casing, complete with transparent flame-like markings. Natural glasses, which are legitimate gemstone material (obsidian and other tektites), are created when the molten elements needed to create a gemstone doesn't have time to cool during the growth stage. Instead, the elements are cooled rapidly resulting in natural glass (obsidian for example).

This molten state and solidification into a natural glass is represented by El Shaddoll Grysta's Fire attribute and is furthered perpetuated by the Rock attribute which belongs to another natural glass Gem-Knight: Gem-Knight Obsidian. The flame-like markings are reminiscent of those found on rough tektites due to rapid cooling like this sample of Moldavite. There's some similarities to this monster's positioning, naming, and the crucifixion as well, but that's a story for another day.

I'm Not Fake, Just Naturally Synthetic
So now that you know what separates true crystal and glass from one another we can continue on. Each Gemstone belongs to a certain group – like garnet, quartz, or corundum – which are then further subdivided into species which have their own chemical composition and characteristics. From there we divide again into the different varieties of gemstones. The Gem-Knights you possess work in a very similar manner, with each Gem-Knight being generally unique. Only a few Gem-Knights belong to each group:

-Gem-Knight Aquamarine and Gem-Knight Emerald both belong to the beryl group.

-Gem-Knight Crystal, Gem-Knight Amethyst, Gem-Knight Citrine and Gem-Knight Prismaura and Gem-Knight Sardonyx (a variety of chalcedony) all belong to the quartz group.

-Gem-Knight Sapphire and Gem-Knight Ruby both belong to the corundum group and are in fact the same gemstone. The only difference being that rubies are red and sapphires come in all other colors. Generally, the sapphire stone and the word itself is associated with the color blue, but colored sapphire has become nomenclature over colored corundum since "sapphire" is a more commonly known name.

Strangely, most of those Gem-Knights are not needed to fuse into Fusion Monsters of the same group. That said, any Gem-Knight can be used for any Gem-Knight Fusion acting as the undeclared and mandatory use of a Gem-Knight. But why do Gem-Knights fuse and not Tune, or require a Ritual Summoned?


This all stems from the idea that the gemstones, in reality, are often treated or enhanced in some way. Some are grown in labs and are known as synthetics. The term synthetic doesn't mean fake, quite the opposite in fact: synthetic gemstones have the same chemical properties as their natural counterpart. A synthetic ruby is identical to a natural ruby in nearly every way with one of the few differences being the inclusions within the stones. Synthetic stones command a lower price than their natural counterparts though, so keep that in mind when you go shopping.

Enhancements, like I discussed above with glass, have been used for centuries. The card Gem-Enhancement shows Gem-Knight Ruby enhancing its color. In fact, nearly all the Gem-Knight Fusion cards establish the idea that the Gem-Knights enhance themselves to become new 'imitations' or 'synthetic' counterparts as Gem-Knight Fusion monsters. Pyroxene Fusion, Particle Fusion and Fragment Fusion are all meant to demonstrate these various forms of enhancement performed on gemstones in real life today. Essentially when you're fusing for a Gem-Knight Fusion monster, you're creating your own synthetic or imitation gemstone.

Super. Natural. Beauty.
It's pretty obvious why most of the Gem-Knights are Earth monsters. Unlike themes that are element-reliant such as the Hero archetype, the Gem-Knights weren't designed to be considered 'elemental.' They were divided into the type groups of Pyro, Thunder, Aqua and Rock to represent both the actual properties some gemstones possess, as well as metaphysical and mythological aspects of certain gemstones.

Your Thunder-type Gem-Knights are inclined to actual scientific electrical properties. Amber, Gem-Knight Amber, possesses the ability to acquire a negative electrostatic static charge when rubbed, known as triboelectricity. Tourmaline Gem-Knight, tourmaline's counterpart, has the ability to create an electric charge when heated known as pyroelectricity, and when mechanically stressed, called piezoelectricity. Much like the two other Thunder-type Gem-Knights, topaz – Gem-Knight Topaz's counterpart – can display pyroelectricproperties. Quartz, in the form of Gem-Knight Prismaura, also displays strong pyroelectric and piezoelectric properties.

All of these Knights are relatively static as far as their ATK and DEF are considered, with the two Level 4's sitting around the 1600 ATK mark and the two Fusions sitting between 1800 and 2500 ATK. They sit in between the Pyro and Aqua-types and represent a more 'balanced' approach to combat.

Next you have your Aqua-type Gem-Knights, whose typing resides in the metaphysical and mythological. Amethyst, Gem-Knight Amethyst's counterpart, is said to align with water attributes in the metaphysical world with its ruling planet considered to be Neptune. Associated with Bacchus, the name of amethyst comes from the Greek 'amethustos,' meaning 'not drunk' – wearing the stone was said to prevent intoxication.

Amethyst was also the name of a lovely lady who was said to have been pursued by Bacchus during a drunken frenzy. While he chased her and attempted to rape her, she prayed to Diana, who took pity upon her and turned her into a large crystal statue. So overcome with grief was Bacchus that he poured his goblet of wine on her and she became permanently stained violet.


No surprise that the gemstone aquamarine, Gem-Knight Aquamarine, is named for the blue color of this gemstone. Iolite (Gem-Knight Iolite) receives its name for the word "violet." It also goes by the pseudonym of "water sapphire" because of its ability to display a blue, yellow, grey/colorless, or violet color depending on the angle from which it's viewed. Finally, sapphire (Gem-Knight Sapphire) has always been associated with the element of water because of it's strong blue color. These intangible aqueous knights are all oriented toward defensive roles, with paltry ATK and with the highest DEF of all the Gem-Knight monsters.

The Pyro-type Gem-Knights are a mixture of both science and myth. Citrine (Gem-Knight Citrine) are normally a gorgeous yellow or a browny, orangey-red color (the madeira citrine variety specifically). This monster's hands are shown to burn, literally, displaying the color of fine madeira citrine, but it wears bright yellow citrines on its armor. In reality, if you heat an amethyst gemstone you can transform the violet color into yellow and thus convert amethyst into citrine. This monster literally, through heat treatment, has become a citrine. That explains why Gem-Kngiht Crystal can easily change between its amethyst and citrine counterparts.

There's a special variety of garnet (Gem-Knight Garnet) known as Pyrope, because of its vibrant flaming red colors. Much like sapphire, ruby and sardonyx (Gem-Knight Ruby and Gem-Knight Sardonyx) are associated with the element of fire because of their intense red color. These Gem-Knights take their Fiery Fervor up a level, boasting some of the highest ATK stats of all the Gem-Knights next to the Rock-types.

Speaking of, we finally come to the oddball group, the Rock-types. Only one of these Gem-Knights is actually a rock and that's Gem-Knight Lazuli. Coincidentally, Lapis Lazuli is the only rock studied in gemmology. Gem-Knight Crystal is named for the colorless variety of quartz known as rock crystal, possibly but not necessarily explaining the apparent 'rock'-typing.

I suspect the remaining members – Gem-Knight Alexandrite, Gem-Knight Emerald, Gem-Knight Master Diamond, Gem-Knight Obsidian, Gem-Knight Pearl and Gem-Knight Zirconia – were all placed in this group for proper flow of the theme. I mean, there's reasons for that, but I'd have to get really deep into the gemmology to explain. Like all of the Gem-Knight monsters they're each interesting on individual levels and I'll cover them next time. Note that each of the Knights in this rugged group have either high ATK or DEF.

A Gem-Knight Constructed Pygmalion
So far the only Fusion monster of the group that's none of the aforementioned types is Gem-Knight Seraphinite. A Fairy-type monster, her name originates from the gemstone seraphinite, a variety of chlinochlore. This green gemstone's name is derived from Seraphim, the highest order of angels in Christianity, likely for the silvery chatoyancy that resembles silver feathers on the surface of this gemstone.

Seraphinite isn't very hard and scratches easily making it unpopular in jewellery. That said, you can find it rounded into cabochons to better show off the silver 'feathers' at metaphysical and gemstone suppliers. Gem-Knight Seraphinite's unique in that it requires an actual attribute rather than a specific type for a Fusion Summon. She physically resembles Gem-Knight Lazuli and Constellar Virgo with Silver Wings similar to the gemstone itself, and borrows the effect of one of the best Constellar monsters (Constellar Pollux) allowing you an additional Normal Summon.

This monster has two other counterparts in the forms of Gem-Knight Lazuli, an anime exclusive card, Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli. Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli and Gem-Knight Seraphinite are actually closely linked to, and possibly make up the form of, El Shaddoll Construct. As soon as you see Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli, you should be able to piece it together. Look closely at El Shaddol Construct and you'll see that the habit (the headdress), the seraphinite gemstones (there's a huge one on her forehead), the wings on its back and legs are borrowed from Gem-Knight Seraphinite.


Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli serves as the body, the small detailed designs, face and hair, and it fills in the other pieces including the kimono they're both wearing. It's literally all there. I even drew it out when I first saw Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli because I couldn't believe it. It really is the two coming together to create one monster. All the details from the kimono can be seen in El Shaddoll Construct's mannequin, so whether or not they're actually El Shaddoll Construct or a body double, there's absolutely no denying the resemblance between these three monsters. There's a reason it's called El Shaddoll Construct: it's made up of all the pieces of those two monsters.

I hope you enjoyed part one of this Gem-Knight primer! I hope now you can all see the amazing similarities between the Gem-Knights and Shaddolls, I know it knocked my socks off! There's a good reason why Shaddolls are a Fusion archetype and why their fusion card is an inverted Gem-Knight Fusion. I can't wait to finally receive the new Gem-Knight support in January; I think that's the highlight of my new year!

Remember, all gemstones are precious, semi-precious is just a selling gimmick!

-Franco Ferrara