Stop Ivory's chief executive, John Stephenson said: "By starting the process to bring in a total ban on ivory sales in the United Kingdom, the government continues to work with the African countries leading the Elephant Protection Initiative to secure a meaningful future for elephants across Africa - the initiative the government helped launch at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in 2014".
The government was put under pressure by a wide range of campaign groups and prominent individuals including the former Conservative leader William Hague, the primatologist Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and Ricky Gervais.
Conservationists say the sales, often to Asian countries such as Hong Kong and China, stimulate demand for the product and in turn lead to increased elephant poaching.
"Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol - so we want to ban its sale".
"That's why I'm thrilled that we are going further than ever before to help end the trade of ivory - by banning it altogether here in the United Kingdom".
The worldwide trade in ivory has been illegal since 1990 but now the United Kingdom law allows trade in "antiques" carved before 1947, or items worked before 1990 that have government certificates.
Only two major exemptions will be allowed - musical instruments and historic or artistic artefacts.
"We need to be the generation that ends the illegal ivory trade once and for all".
"Along with our partners, we congratulate the Government on this important step and look forward to working with it and our colleagues to ensure the ban is implemented robustly and without delay". It was then quietly dropped by Theresa May from the 2017 Conservative Party election manifesto. That consultation period will last for 12 weeks before a decision is made.
"This is about a lot more than banning ivory sales in one country".
"We feel strongly that an outright ban would be an over-reaction and would be very detrimental to the honest and legitimate trade of pre-1947 ivory", she told the BBC.