Type I(a) diamonds contain high concentrations of nitrogen, almost all of which is in an aggregated form. The two main aggregates are recognized by characteristic absorption features in the infrared region of the spectrum. These are called A and B features; usually a peak designated B' is also present. When such diamonds were heated at 1960 degrees C and above under a stabilizing pressure of 85 kbar (8.5 GPa) the nitrogen aggregates partially dissociated, producing single substitutional atoms which were identified by electron paramagnetic resonance (e.p.r.) measurements. Experiments with selected diamonds, showing wide variations in their characteristic infrared absorption, determined the relative stability of the A and B centres. Optical measurements led to the determination of a general relation between the strengths of the A, B and B' features. The experimental observations suggest a scheme for the occurrence of type I(a) diamonds containing nitrogen atoms which have aggregated into A centres; type I(b) diamonds can also be included in this scheme.