CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 961414ptl

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
1624 E. 7th Avenue
Suite 101
Tampa, FL 33605-3706

RE: Protest 1801-94-100032; Jewelry.

Dear Port Director:

The following is our decision on Protest 1801-94-100032, against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of an assortment of jewelry.


The goods under protest were entered on February 3, 1994, and invoiced as "other antiques >100 years old". The goods comprise a lot of 859 pieces of jewelry which had been acquired at auction in Europe. The entry covering the goods was liquidated on June 17, 1994, under the provision for articles of jewelry and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal, of precious metal whether or not plated or clad with precious metal, other, in subheading 7113.19.50, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), with duty at the general rate of 6.5%. A timely protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 was received on July 26, 1994. The protestant requested reliquidation of the entry under the provision for antiques, over 100 years old, in subheading 9706.00.0060, HTSUS, with free general duty rate.


What is the proper classification of an assorted lot of imported jewelry?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, 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 order.

The headings under consideration are as follows:

7113 Articles of jewelry and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal:

7113.19 Of other precious metal, whether or not plated or clad with precious metal:

* * *


* * *

7113.19.50 Other.

9706.00.00 Antiques of an age exceeding one hundred years

* * *

9706.00.0060 Other

The protestant is claiming that all of the 859 pieces of jewelry which comprised the lot acquired at a Christie's Geneva Free Port auction qualify as antiques. For merchandise to be eligible for classification as antiques in heading 9706, HTSUS, the language of the tariff is specific. All goods being considered for such classification must be "of an age exceeding one hundred years."

Invoices submitted by the protestant for auction Lot 197 shows that Christie's identified the merchandise simply as "Lot de 949 bijoux" (Lot of 949 pieces of jewelry). A handwritten note on the invoice indicates that the goods on the invoice were to be considered antique jewelry except for 90 rings. There is no provenance, certification or authentication from Christie's regarding the age of any of the merchandise covered by the invoices. Pages from the auction catalogue show that Christie's did not even provide a "circa" date as guidance to the true age of the jewelry.

Customs had the assortment of jewelry examined and appraised by an independent certified appraiser-gemologist prior to liquidation of the entry. Because of the number of pieces of jewelry, and the fact that they were packed in bags, Customs appraisement was conducted on a representative sample of the lot consisting of 91 pieces randomly selected. The result of that examination indicated that the lot consisted of a commingled mixture of jewelry, of which approximately 11% (10 pieces) were actually over one hundred years old. The actual antiques were randomly interspersed throughout the lot and could not easily be segregated by Customs. The Customs appraiser estimated that the average fair market value of each item in the lot was between $276.51 and $299.05 per item. Were these articles actually antiques, they would command a much higher estimated value. This relatively low value is consistent with the auction house's sale of the articles by lot. These factors do not support the claim that the articles are antiques.

The protestant has provided Customs with the results of an appraisal conducted by its own expert. Protestant's appraiser examined and provided opinions on more articles than those which are the subject of this protest and did not appraise all of the items that were imported since many of them were already sold. Upon reading the results of that appraisal, which determined, after "individual examination," that all the articles were antiques over 100 years old, one also sees that the appraisal of 693 pieces of jewelry was accomplished in one day. Even if the protestant's appraiser worked diligently, without stopping, the numbers indicate each "individual examination" was conducted quickly. In a different appraisal of 234 additional pieces, the protestant's appraiser determined that 96% of those lots were antiques. Such speed causes Customs to view the results of the appraisal with skepticism due to the fact that the appraiser used by Customs spent over 40 hours on his examination of far fewer pieces.

General Note 17 to the HTSUS provides, in general, that when goods subject to different rates have been commingled in such a way that the quantity or value of each class cannot be readily ascertained without physical segregation of the goods, the commingled goods shall be subject to the highest rate. Customs Regulations provide in 19 CFR 152.13 that when Customs discovers commingled goods, the importer shall be notified and allowed the opportunity to perform the segregation necessary to ascertain the quantity of each class of goods. However, in the instant situation, the protestant had already performed a segregation of the lots of jewelry into goods he claimed to be antiques and those for which no such claim was being made. Customs appraisal was conducted to verify protestant's classification, not to ascertain whether the goods were commingled. Pursuant to General Note 17, the articles which are the subject of this protest are properly subject to the higher rate of duty applicable to articles of jewelry.

Based upon the above considerations, and in view of the express language of the tariff, Customs does not believe that protestant has shown that all of the articles claimed to be antiques were actually over one hundred years old. Accordingly, they are properly classified in subheading 7113.19.50, HTSUS, as articles of jewelry and parts thereof, of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal, of other precious metal, whether or not plated or clad with precious metal, other.


For the reasons stated above, the protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, Revised Protest Directive, dated August 4, 1993, a copy of this decision attached to Customs Form 19, Notice of Action, should be provided by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this decision and any reliquidations of entries in accordance with this decision must be accomplished prior thereto. Sixty days from the date of this decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make this decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division