I own several Cartier bags -- three in buffalo from the Marcello line, and one of the mini C de Cartier bags in pebbled calfskin, as well as some SLGs. They are exquisitely made from gorgeous leathers, and the price point is very reasonable compared to other luxury brands.
I don't have a Cartier bag, but I know they've been making them 'forever', I've seen Deco era minaudieres made of precious metals and gems. The ones I've seen are very comparable with some of the premier brands, say Saint Laurent.
I adore the Guirlande, esp the mini in red, so cute.
My favourite are still the ones with precious hardware, best of both worlds.