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HQ 956092

June 29, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956092 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 7116.20.20

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
P.O. Box 37260
6269 Ace Industrial Drive, Cudahy WI
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53237-0260

RE: Protest 3401-94-100004; desk nameplates; green marble; serpentine; semi-precious; 6802.99.00; other stone; General EN 3 to Section XIV; EN Annex to Section XIV; EN 71.16; grade of stone; HRL 950057; HRL 955355; Legal Note 1(d), Chapter 68

Dear District Director:

This is in response to Protest 3401-94-100004, which pertains to the tariff classification of desk nameplates under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The subject desk nameplates are described by the protestant as green marble desk nameplates which weigh 4 pounds each and measure 12 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches. Each nameplate is stated to cost approximately $6.25.

Upon importation, the entry of the desk nameplates was liquidated on November 5, 1993, under subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS, as other articles of semi-precious stone. This classification was based on Customs Laboratory Reports for similarly described "green marble" from the same supplier, San Ya Resources Development Co., Ltd., issued to the protestant. See, Customs Laboratory Reports 3-91-31556-001 dated July 24, 1991 (nameplate), 3-93-30748-001 dated April 30, 1993 (tile), 3-90-31952-001 dated July 19, 1990 (tile), 3-90-30956-001 dated March 23, 1990 (tile), and 3-90-32517-001 dated September 21, 1990 (tile). The laboratory reports found that the "green marble" was actually serpentine.

In a protest timely filed on January 6, 1994, the protestant contends that the nameplates are properly classified under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, as other stone. The protestant contends that its desk nameplates should be classified in the same manner as its floor tile because both the desk nameplate and floor tile are made from the exact same material and differed only in shape and size. The protestant describes its floor tile as weighing approximately 4 pounds, measuring 12 inches by 12 inches by 3/8 of an inch and costing approximately $4.20.

The competing subheadings are as follows:

6802.99.00 Worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially colored granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone (including slate)...Other...Other stone.

7116.20.20 Articles of natural or cultured pearls, precious or semiprecious stones (natural, synthetic or reconstructed)...Of precious or semiprecious stones...Other...Of semiprecious stone (except rock crystal).


Are the desk nameplates classified as other stone under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, or as other articles of semi-precious stone under subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...."

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be consulted. The ENs, although not dispositive are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See, T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

General EN 3 to Section XIV (pg. 949), states, in pertinent part, that Chapter 71, HTSUS, includes "[i]n general, articles made wholly or partly of natural or cultured pearls, diamond or other precious or semi-precious stones (natural, synthetic or reconstructed), precious metals or metal clad with precious metal (headings 71.13 to 71.16)." EN Annex to Section XIV (pg. 968), lists "serpentine" as a precious or semi-precious stone. EN 71.16 (pg. 963), states, in pertinent part, that:

This heading covers all articles (other than those excluded by Notes 2(b) and 3 to this Chapter), wholly of natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, or consisting partly of natural or cultured pearls or precious or semi-precious stones....

It thus includes:...

(B) Other articles consisting wholly or partly of precious or semi-precious stones...the heading covers crosses and rings (frequently in agate), bracelets (other than wrist-watch bracelets), goblets and cups (often in garnet); statuettes and ornamental articles (e.g., of jade); mortars and pestles (e.g., in agate); knife edges or bearings of agate or other precious or semi-precious stones for weighing apparatus; agate thread spinning guides; decorative corks with heads of agate, etc.; agate burnishing tools used for gilding, for polishing leather, paper, etc.; agate rings for fishing rods, paper-knives, ink-stands, paperweights, ashtrays (e.g., of agate or onyx).

Heading 7116, HTSUS, covers all articles of precious or semi-precious stones (emphasis added). This heading does not distinguish between the grade of stone but includes all types of precious or semi-precious stone not more specifically described by other parts of the tariff. The serpentine desk nameplates are the kind of articles contemplated in subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS, for they are ornamental articles made from semi-precious stone. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 950057 dated October 31, 1991, and HRL 955355 dated April 28, 1994, which classified a carved serpentine stone and a serpentine cheeseboard under subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS. Therefore, we conclude that the serpentine desk nameplate is properly classified under subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS, as other articles of semi-precious stone.

Since the desk nameplates are composed of the same material as its floor tiles differing only in shape and size, the protestant contends that the desk nameplates should be classified the same as its floor tiles under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, as other stone. The comparison of floor tiles and desk nameplates is inappropriate. The shape and size are not the only differences between the two article. Although both articles weigh 4 pounds each, there is a price difference of approximately 32%, $4.20 for each floor tile and $6.25 for each desk nameplate. The floor tiles and desk nameplates are two different articles for tariff classification purposes.

Moreover, Legal Note 1(d), Chapter 68 states that "[t]his chapter does not cover: [a]rticles of chapter 71." If an article is classifiable as semi-precious stone, it is to be classified in Chapter 71, HTSUS. The HTSUS is quite clear that classification of an article under Chapter 71, HTSUS, takes precedence over classification of an article under Chapter 68, HTSUS.


The serpentine desk nameplates are classified under subheading 7116.20.20, HTSUS, as other articles of semi-precious stone.

The protest is DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed, with the Customs Form 19, by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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