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Gem Shards or simply Shards are the remnants of shattered gemstones. Groups of shards usually include pieces from multiple Gems. They first appeared in "Frybo" and continued to appear in "Secret Team", "Keeping It Together", "Nightmare Hospital", "When It Rains" and "Gem Drill". They are the shattered remains of broken Gems that still contain remnants of the Gem's original form when they are free from bubbles. The shards have different abilities such as possessing material objects and can be forcibly fused to create mutated Cluster Gems.
Pearl tried to explain to Steven Universe that "[the] shards have a powerful partial consciousness that has been harnessed by Gems throughout history to create semi-sentient drone soldiers with the capacity to follow basic orders. Gems once created an army of these drones but found their obedience waned as the shards overdeveloped inside their uniforms and turned on their commanders. You see, any shard inside any sort of container could become a monster!" An example of this is when Frybo turned on Steven and Peedee Fryman which is why Shards must be kept away from all items to avoid other dangerous situations.
Pearl, Amethyst and Steven accidentally popped a Rose Quartz bubble containing a mass of mixed Gem shards which regenerated into non-sentient arms and legs. After defeating and collecting the scattered Shards Steven bubbled them again and they attempted to keep it a secret from Garnet but failed.
It is implied by Pearl that these shards have unique properties (such as the ability to regenerate in a partial state, something only Cluster Gems have been observed to do) due to being bubbled by Rose.
While in the Prime Kindergarten it is revealed that the Gem Homeworld is forcing the gem shards of fallen rebel gems from the war to fuse. The shards can take on a form but the generations only result in limbs spliced together in unnatural ways. The former Crystal Gems that comprise the Cluster Gem mutants can regenerate, but the process causes them obvious pain. Whether or not the forced fusions regenerate by will is unknown; in their debut moments, their constituents are seen trying to escape the fusion, but that may just be spontaneous regeneration like that of the Gem Shards in "Secret Team".
Two more Gem mutants appeared, having been mistaken for car accident victims and admitted to the Hospital as patients. They then attack Steven, Connie and Priyanka Maheswaran before being poofed by Connie using Rose's Sword. These Gem mutants are much more mobile and violent than those seen in "Keeping It Together".
In Garnet's story, Rose Quartz shatters Pink Diamond, and Pink Diamond's gem shards are visualized.
Inside Pearl's gemstone Steven explores Pearl's memories and finds pink shards near Pink Diamond's Palanquin. He learns the shards are not of Pink Diamond's gem; Pink Diamond herself made these shards as part of her plan to fake her death, using her powers to create convincing false shards out of dirt. She then swallowed them so when Pearl (disguised as Rose Quartz) poofed her the shards fell to the ground while Pearl hid Pink Diamond's gem tricking nearby Gems into thinking Rose Quartz shattered Pink Diamond.
In a training for Steven troubling Diamond powers, Jasper is crushed into gem shards under a giant wall of hexagonal shield with spikes, created by Steven. Nevertheless, Steven brings her back with all Diamond essence he has, with his tears; as Jasper regenerates, her form is almost the same except some minor differences.
- The Evil Spirit Scroll was painted using pigments from crushed Gem Shards and gemstones.
- Pink Diamond dropped shards next to her palanquin in modern-day Korea making it appear as if she had been shattered. The location of these shards is unknown.