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HQ 959961

October 30, 1997

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 959961 HMC


TARIFF NO.: 7117.19.90

Port Director of Customs
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island, CA 90731

RE: PRD 2720-96-101019; The Phantom Official Ring; Heading 7117; Subheadings 7117.19.60 and 7117.19.90; Chapters 71, Notes 9(a) and 11; General Explanatory Note to Chapter 95; Explanatory Note 71.17; Imitation Jewelry; Toy Jewelry; Articles of Personal Adornment; Headquarters Rulings 957829, 952296, 956524, 956160, 954690, 950700, 085020, 088663, 086407; Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a); GRI 1; GRI 6.

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 2720-96-101019, filed against your classification of "The Phantom--The Official Ring," imported by Street Players Holding Corporation. The entries under protest were liquidated on July 5, 1996, July 19, 1996, and August 2, 1996, and this protest timely filed on October 3, 1996. A sample was submitted for examination.


The merchandise under protest is an adjustable ring of base metal, imported from Hong Kong, which may be worn by children and adults alike. The ring features a raised skull head carved on its rectangular crest. The ring was created as a promotional "tie-in" to be distributed in connection with "The Phantom," a major motion picture released by Paramount Pictures. The ring is described to hold great nostalgic value for "baby-boomers" who were comic-book collectors in their youth. Recognizing the sentimental power of the skull head ring, Paramount commissioned the importer to manufacture a version of the ring as a promotional keepsake for moviegoers.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 7117.19.60 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), a duty-free provision for toy jewelry of base metal. However, the entries were liquidated under subheading 7117.19.90, HTSUS, as other imitation jewelry of base metal. Protestant claims that the skull head ring is classifiable as toy jewelry under subheading 7117.19.60, HTSUS, based on the premise that it is designed and used for amusement.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

7117 Imitation jewelry:
Of base metal, whether or not plated with precious metal:
7117.11.00 Cuff links and studs

7117.19 Other:
7117.19.60 Toy jewelry valued not over 8 cents per piece...Free

7117.19.90 Other...11%


Whether the adjustable skull head ring is classifiable as toy jewelry under subheading 7117.19.60, HTSUS, or as other imitation jewelry under subheading 7117.19.90, HTSUS.


Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 6 states that the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, mutatis mutandis, to the above rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

Subheading 7117.19.60 is a recent addition to heading 7117, HTSUS, the provision for imitation jewelry. In order to determine whether the skull head rings are toy jewelry of subheading 7117.19.60, HTSUS, we must understand the meaning of this provision. We must look at the statutory language to find a definition of the term "toy jewelry." Sturm, Ruth, Customs Law and Administration, Vol. 2., ? 51.3, p. 33. The Notes to Chapter 95 and Chapter 71 together may help us define this elusive term. Chapter 71, Note 9 states that

For the purposes of heading 7113, the expression "articles of jewelry" means:

(a) Any small objects of personal adornment (gem-set or not) (for example, rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings, watch chains, fobs, pendants, tie pins, cuff links, dress studs, religious or other medals and insignia). (Emphasis added)

Also, Note 11 to Chapter 71, HTSUS, states that

For the purpose of heading 7117, the expression "imitation jewelry" means articles of jewelry within the meaning of paragraph (a) of note 9 above (but not including buttons or other articles of heading 9606, or dress combs, hair slides or the like, or hairpins, of heading 9615), not incorporating natural or cultured pearls, precious or semiprecious stones (natural, synthetic or reconstructed) nor (except as plating or as minor constituents) precious metal or metal clad with precious metal.

The Notes to Chapter 71 thus provide a definition of the term "imitation jewelry" which includes articles of personal adornment. However, none of the Notes to this Chapter nor the Notes to Chapter 95, which in general include the provisions for toys, elaborate on the meaning of the term "toy jewelry."

We are aware of only one ruling which has dealt with subheading 7117.19.60, HTSUS. In HQ 956524, dated January 31, 1995, Customs held that a "Polly Pocket Necklace Assortment" set, consisting of an oval shaped, plastic pendant with a removable "Polly Pocket" doll, was classifiable as toy jewelry. Applying GRI 3(b) and the definition of imitation jewelry, Customs found that the item's essential character was provided by the imitation jewelry components classifiable in heading 7117, HTSUS. It further found that the article, as a whole, functioned primarily as an item of personal adornment, and retained this use irrespective of the doll's presence or absence within the pendant. Customs held that the articles were classifiable under the new provision for toy jewelry, but without any discussion of the new toy jewelry nomenclature.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the Notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The General ENs to Chapter 95, HTSUS, provide that Chapter 95 covers toys of all kinds whether designed for the amusement of children or adults. It has been Customs position that the amusement requirement means that toys should be designed and used principally for amusement. Customs has cited various factors to apply, which are suggestive but not dispositive, when determining principal use for amusement. They include: general physical characteristics, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, channels of trade, and the environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display). See Headquarters Rulings (HQ) 957829, 954690, 952296, 956524 and 956160, citing Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a).

In these rulings, when called upon to determine whether an import was imitation jewelry or a toy of Chapter 95, HTSUS, Customs applied the foregoing principal use test and held that the purpose of a toy is to give the enjoyment of a plaything and generally carries little or no utilitarian value. Thus, in HQ 957829, dated July 3, 1996, Customs, after finding that a "Fantastic Fingernails Nail Decorating Set" was principally used as a toy of heading 9503, HTSUS, explained that the use of the set's nails as objects of personal adornment was limited and that the combination of the set's various items with the set's water color polish suggested play. It concluded that the utilitarian value or use of the nail decorating set as an object of personal adornment was secondary to the play value of the items. See also HQ 085020; HQ 954690; HQ 950700; HQ 088663; HQ 086407.

Protestant cites HQ 088663 to support the contention that the skull head ring should be classified under subheading 7117.19.60, HTSUS, because the ring is designed and used principally for amusement of children. Protestant claims that, as with the merchandise in HQ 088663, the skull head ring's packing suggests that it may be used by children to act out the famous comic-book character. We note that the skull head ring was sold in a packing that portrayed the phantom comic-book and movie character with the words "The Phantom--The Official Ring" printed on the top.

In HQ 088663 Customs considered the classification of a "Wrestling Champion Medallion and Headband Set." The merchandise in that case consisted of a large plastic chain and medallion and a textile headband with the words "Wrestling Champion, Imperial Wrestling League" imprinted in them. Customs found that the items provided amusement to children through the age old play activity of make believe and appealed to a child's sense of imagination. It concluded that the plastic medallion was not jewelry that would be worn everyday by a child and classified the merchandise as a toy set of heading 9503, HTSUS.

Protestant seems to support the proposition that articles described in the toy jewelry provision are articles principally used for amusement. We disagree with this interpretation of the new toy jewelry Nomenclature. It is our belief that the determination of whether an article is a toy must be made at the heading level. Therefore, if an article can be shown to be principally used for the amusement of children or adults, it will be classified in the appropriate headings and subheadings of Chapter 95, subject to the Section and Chapter Notes. If it is determined that an article is not principally used for amusement, it will be classifiable elsewhere in the HTSUS. Stated another way, the imitation jewelry provision, heading 7117, cannot accommodate toys of Chapter 95, as Customs has defined them.

We are nevertheless presented with a provision for toy jewelry at the eight-digit level. Since toy jewelry falls under the provision for imitation jewelry, it is only logical to find that toys described in this heading are different from toys of Chapter 95. If an article meets the toy definition of Chapter 95's ENs, they would be classifiable in that Chapter, not in heading 7117, HTSUS. A differentiation must exist to give meaning to the phrase "toy jewelry." To this end we would look to the play value of the article. We believe that to be classifiable in the "toy jewelry" provision the article must be "imitation jewelry" as defined in Notes 9(a) and 11 to Chapter 71, HTSUS, and manifest substantial play value. Accordingly, we must determine whether the skull head ring is imitation jewelry manifesting substantial play value.

We find that HQ 088663 is distinguishable from this matter because the skull head ring is neither made of plastic nor forms part of a set. The ring is an adjustable ring of base metal, which is designed to be worn every day by children or adults. It is this use that predominates over any play use the ring provides. Since rings are articles specifically described in the Notes and ENs to Chapter 71, the skull head ring is clearly an article of personal adornment within heading 7117, HTSUS. Furthermore, the evidence provided shows that the ring was created as a promotional "tie-in" to be distributed in connection with "The Phantom," a major motion picture released by Paramount Pictures. The ring is described to hold great nostalgic value for "baby-boomers" who were comic-book collectors in their youth. Recognizing the sentimental power of the skull head ring, Paramount commissioned the importer to manufacture a version of the ring as a promotional keepsake for moviegoers. We thus believe that the skull head ring was designed, marketed and expected to be principally used by an adult as a memento and article of personal adornment. As such, the ring does not manifest substantial play value. We therefore conclude that the skull head ring is classifiable under subheading 7117.19.90, as imitation jewelry: Of base metal,...: Other: Other: Other.


Under the authority of GRI 1, "The Phantom-The Official Ring" is provided for in heading 7117, HTSUS. They are classifiable in subheading 7117.19.90, HTSUS, as imitation jewelry: Of base metal,...: Other: Other: Other. The rate of duty is 11%.

This protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you should mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the Protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing 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 to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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