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HQ 735356

March 21, 1994

MAR 2-05 CO:R:C:V 735356 LR


Joel K. Simon, Esq.
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center Suite 3374
New York, N.Y. 10048

RE: Country of origin marking of gold jewelry; tags; marking after importation; 19 CFR ?134.34

Dear Mr. Serko:

This is in response to your letter dated September 9, 1993, requesting a ruling on behalf of Sterling, Inc. (Sterling) regarding the country of origin marking of imported gold jewelry. We regret the delay in responding.


Sterling operates a chain of retail jewelry stores throughout the United States. The company imports and sells gold jewelry from Italy for sale only through their company owned stores. Sterling requests a ruling which would allow it to import this gold jewelry with die sunk marking, and then mark the jewelry with hang tags at their office in Akron, Ohio. Information included on the hang tag includes the country of origin ("Made in Italy"), the retail price of the item, the style number, length, gold content and a bar code for computer reading at the time of sale. The tag is white and measures approximately 1" x 5/8". The information on the tag appears in contrasting black letters.

As a result of questions being raised about the conspicuousness of the marking and its legibility, Sterling requests a ruling on the marking of four pieces of jewelry which are representative of the size of jewelry imported. Three of the items are bracelets made of 14 karat gold. The bracelets are in various widths ranging from 2-5 MM. The necklace is 7MM wide. Each of the articles is marked with the die sunk word "Italy" on a flat link which connects the bracelet chain to the clasp. In addition, each of the items has a hang tag as described above. No item is sold by Sterling without the hang tag. The word "Italy" is small, measuring approximately 3/16" x 1/32", and is surrounded by die sunk lines in the form of a box. Due to the small size and manner of marking, the word "Italy" is somewhat difficult to read.


Whether hang tags containing the name of the country of origin along with other pertinent information about the product may be affixed by the importer after importation if the jewelry is indelibly marked "MADE IN ITALY" at the time of importation, but perhaps not in a manner which is sufficiently legible and/or conspicuous.


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article. Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134), implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. The ultimate purchaser in the United States must be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. 19 CFR ?134.41(b).

In Headquarters Ruling Letter 734481 (August 19, 1992), Customs ruled that certain jewelry marked by means of engraving the origin of the jewelry near the clasp did not satisfy the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR Part 134. The importer was instructed to mark the chains by some other method which was easy to read, such as hang tags. In reaching this conclusion, Customs looked to C.S.D.'s 79-47 (August 7, 1978) and 79-379 (April 9, 1979) where Customs required corrective marking (string tags) on gold jewelry because the existing indelible marking failed to meet the standard of legibility and/or conspicuousness. The result in all three of these decisions would have been different had the indelible markings been sufficiently legible and conspicuous. See HRL 735225, August 17, 1993 (tag marking was not required because the quality of the indelible marking on the clasp resulted in well-defined lettering that could be read without difficulty). In that case, the origin markings measured approximately 1/16" by 1/8".

The origin marking on the submitted samples are smaller than those that were approved in HRL 735225 and are more difficult to read. We find that the indelible marking by itself does is not sufficiently legible and that a hang tag, such as the one described above, is needed to correct the marking. However, in view of the fact that each item is indelibly marked with its country of origin at the time of importation, we have no objection if the origin tags are affixed after importation provided the district director at the port of entry is satisfied that tags will be affixed by the importer as described above and approves the use of such procedures. The requirements set forth in 19 CFR ?134.34 should be followed.

19 CFR 134.34 provides that an exception under 19 CFR 134.32(d) may be authorized in the discretion of the district director for imported articles which are to be repacked after release from Customs custody under the following conditions:

(1) The containers in which the articles are repacked will indicate the origin of the articles to an ultimate purchaser in the United States.

(2) The importer arranges for supervision of the marking of the containers by Customs officers at the importer's expense or secures such verification, as may be necessary, by certification and the submission of a sample or otherwise, of the marking prior to the liquidation of the entry. (emphasis added).

The use of ?134.34 procedures was authorized in HRL 735292, September 2, 1993, another ruling concerning an importer's proposal to affix origin tags to gold jewelry after importation. The ruling states that:
although the above provision (?134.34) sets forth the procedures to be followed when unmarked imported articles are to be repacked into marked containers after importation, we believe these procedures are also appropriate in the present situation. The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that articles which are not adequately marked at the time of importation due to practical problems are properly marked after importation. The importer's proposal to affix the country of origin tag after importation falls into this category.


Sterling's proposal to attach origin hang tags like those described above after importation is acceptable if approved by the district director and the procedures set in 19 CFR ?134.34 are followed.


John Durant, Director

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