United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 964710 - HQ 964843 > HQ 964776

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 964776

December 19, 2001

CLA-2 RR: CR: GC : 964776 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 7418.19.20

Mrs. Barbara Wierbicki
Tompkins & Davidson, LLP
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036-8901

RE: NY G84984; glass/metal napkin ring

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

This is in response to your letter dated December 1, 2000, to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, on behalf of Ex-Cell Home Fashions, Inc., requesting the classification of glass and metal napkin (serviette) rings under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter was referred to this office for reply. A sample was submitted. We regret the delay in responding.


The merchandise identified as “Diamonds” Napkin Ring, Style 2025-416, consists of five brass concave-shaped rings, plated with electroplated nickel silver (EPN), soldered together in a circular fashion. Inside each brass ring is a piece of glass “cut in the style similar to a ‘brilliant’ diamond,” bound to the rings by EPN brass wire. The rings are 3mm thick, with an inner diameter measuring approximately 2”, and an outside diameter of approximately 11/4”. The circumference of the diamond-like glass pieces is slightly smaller than the rings, but have depth of approximately 13mm. The apex of the diamond face outward, raised approximately 6mm from the edge of the rings. The base of the diamond extends inward from the ring approximately 3mm.


Whether the napkin rings are classifiable as glass, under heading 7013, HTSUS, or as brass, under heading 7418, HTSUS.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Glassware of a kind used for table, kitchen, toilet, office, indoor decoration or similar purposes (other than that of heading 7010 or 7018: Glassware of a kind used for table (other than drinking glasses) or kitchen purposes other than that of glass-ceramics: Other:
Valued not over $3 each

Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of copper; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of copper; sanitary ware and parts thereof, of copper: Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like: Other:
Of copper-zinc base alloys (brass)

The napkin rings consist partly of glass, classifiable in heading 7013, HTSUS, and partly of brass, classifiable in heading 7418, HTSUS. As such, the rings are not specifically provided for in any one heading. They constitute goods consisting of two or more substances or materials. Accordingly, they may not be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1. Nor can the rings be classified according to GRI 2, which relates to incomplete or unfinished articles and mixtures or combinations of materials or substances.

GRI 3(a) states that when, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods. As the subject article is a composite good, we must apply GRI 3(b).

EN VIII to GRI 3(b) explains that "[t]he factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods." Recent court decisions on the essential character for GRI 3(b) purposes have looked primarily to the role of the constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. See Better Home Plastics Corp. v. U.S., 915 F. Supp. 1265 (CIT 1996), aff’d 119 F. 3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997); Mita Copystar America, Inc. v. U.S., 966 F.Supp. 1245 (CIT 1997), rehear’g denied, 994 F. Supp. 393 (1998); Vista Int’l Packing Co. v. U.S., 890 F. Supp. 1095 (CIT 1995). See also Pillowtex Corp. v. U.S., 893 F. Supp. 188 (CIT 1997), aff’d 171 F. 3d 1370 (CAFC 1999).

Under GRI 3(b), the essential character of glass jars with metal lids, glass boxes, plates or suncatchers with metal frames or edges, table and kitchen glassware on metal racks, stands or bases, and the like, is imparted by the glass component. See Informed Compliance Publication, Table and Kitchen Glassware, issued March, 2000. Customs has classified these types of articles under a glass provision based on the fact that the “metal component is ancillary and merely serves to support the glass component.” Informed Compliance Publication, Decorative Glassware, issued August 2001. The glass component comprises the majority of the bulk and weight of a glass and metal article, and often has the greater consumer appeal. More importantly, the glass serves the predominant function of the article. For example, if the glass component of a glass box with a metal frame is removed, the metal frame alone is not a box. Similarly, a glass vessel on a metal stand has the essential character of glass, and is thus classified as such, because the glass vessel performs the article’s function of holding. See also Informed Compliance Publication New Decisions on Candle Holders v. Decorative Articles, issued February 2000 and Informed Compliance Publication Lamps, Lighting and Candle Holders, issued March, 1998.

Napkin rings are utilitarian articles whose essential character is determined, in part, by the component that fulfills the function of holding napkins. See HQ 089651, dated September 11, 1991 (classifying a napkin ring according to the plastic ring and not the floral adornments because the floral adornment did not qualify the ring as a festive article, and because the plastic ring fulfilled the intended function); HQ 086198, dated February 28, 1990 (classifying a napkin ring of mirrored glass and fabric-covered cardboard as having the essential character of glass because the glass was arranged in a ring shape, but also provided commercial appeal).

Thus, under a GRI 3(b) analysis, the glass component may comprise the bulk of the article and provide much of the commercial appeal, but where the metal component serves the function, the essential character is not obvious. Here, the glass does provide the bulk of the article and most of the commercial appeal, as it is the diamond-shaped pieces that define the article as the “Diamonds” Napkin Ring. However, the brass alone provides the article with its function. The glass pieces are not set into the brass rings, but rather are bound to them by brass wires strung through holes drilled through the glass and wrapped around the soldered portions of the napkin ring. Further, the brass rings are not merely the supporting structure. They also provide commercial appeal, being of substantial size and girth, and being concave in shape giving a more delicate, decorative look to the whole.

Inasmuch as it is not possible to determine the essential character of this article, resort must be made to GRI 3(c), HTSUS. Therefore, the napkin ring is classifiable under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration. Accordingly, it is classifiable in subheading 7418.19.20, HTSUS, as table, kitchen or other household articles of brass. It is also noted that serviette (napkin) rings are among the exemplars for articles of table use in EN 73.23(A)(2), which applies, mutatis mutandis, to heading 7418, HTSUS

The subject glass and brass napkin rings are classified in subheading 7418.19.20, which provides for “Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of copper; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like, of copper; sanitary ware and parts thereof, of copper: table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof; pot scourers and scouring or polishing pads, gloves and the like: other: other: of copper-zinc base alloys (brass).”

John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: