Customs Ruling of the Week – Classification of Semi-Precious Stones

In Decision N327192 (August 17, 2022), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the tariff classification of semi-precious stones from China. The article under review was called “National Geographic 2 lbs. Set of top quality polished gemstones. The stones were tumbled and polished and could be used by collectors, placed in aquariums, used in crafts, handmade jewelry, healing crystal displays, and as home decor. The set included the following:

  • Two pounds (total) of the following semi-precious stones, each measuring up to ½ inch and varying in quantity:
    • Agate, Amethyst, Blue Quartz, Dalmatian Jasper, Green Aventurine, Hematite, Howlite, Jasper, Obsidian, Red Jasper, Rose Quartz, Sodalite, Tiger’s Eye, Unakite, and White Quartz;
  • A rock ID card;
  • A learning guide.

CBP determined that, based on the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), the item was considered a set for classification purposes. Goods put up in sets for retail sale are goods which (a) consist of at least two different articles which are, At first glance, classifiable under different headings; (b) consist of articles assembled to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and (c) are packaged in such a way that they can be sold directly to end users without repackaging.

According to GRI 3(b), “mixtures, composite goods made of different materials or made up of different components, and goods presented in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), must be classified as if they were made of the material or element which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable. The factor determining essential character will vary between different types of goods. For example, essential character may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its volume, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods. In this case, CBP found that the essential character of the gemstone set was conferred by the semi-precious stones.

As such, CBP has ruled that the “National Geographic 2 lbs. Premium Polished Gemstone Set” would be classified under subheading 7103.99.5000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for “precious stones (other than diamonds) and semi-precious stones, whether or not worked or classified but not threaded, mounted or fixed…: Otherwise worked: Other: Other. The duty rate is 10.5% ad valorem.

In addition, pursuant to US Note 20 to Subchapter III, Chapter 99, HTSUS, products of Chinese origin under subheading 7103.99.5000, HTSUS, unless specifically excluded, are subject to a surcharge of 7.5 %. ad valorem duty rate. Thus, Chapter subheading 9903.88.15 must be reported in addition to subheading 7103.99.5000, HTSUS.

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